Print This Page

Agricultural Employees

This information sheet provides a summary of the rights of agricultural employees covered under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). The ESA is a law that sets minimum standards in most Ontario workplaces, such as minimum wage and limits on hours of work. Special rules and exemptions apply to certain employees. For more information, see the Special Rule Tool.

In addition to the ESA, an agricultural employee who is also a foreign national that is working or seeking work in Ontario pursuant to an immigration or foreign temporary employee program also has rights under the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009 (EPFNA). For more information on this law, please visit the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals site.

Employers are required to provide all of their employees with a copy of the Employment Standards Poster published by the Ministry of Labour within 30 days of the date the individual becomes an employee.

If you request a translation of the poster in a language other than English and the ministry has published a version in that language, your employer must provide you with the translated version in addition to the English copy. English and French versions of the poster and multilingual versions are available online.

The ESA applies to all agricultural employees working in Ontario, including temporary foreign workers, however, not all of the rules and standards apply to every kind of agricultural employee. What rules and standards apply depends on what category of agricultural employee you fall into. In some cases, your work may fall into more than one category. In that case, how you spend most of your time in any specific work week determines which rules and standards apply.

There are four categories of agricultural employees

  1. Farm employees

  2. A farm employee is a person employed on a farm whose work is directly engaged in the primary production of certain agricultural products. Primary production includes planting crops, cultivating, pruning, feeding and caring for certain livestock.

    What rights do farm employees have under the ESA?

    • Regular payment of wages and wage statements
    • Leaves of absence
    • Termination notice and /or pay and severance pay
    • Equal pay for equal work
  3. Harvesters

  4. A harvester is a farm employee employed on a farm to harvest, or bring in, crops of fruit, vegetables or tobacco for marketing or storage, and there are some special rules for these employees.

    What rights do harvesters have under the ESA?

    • Regular payment of wages and wage statements
    • Leaves of absence
    • Termination notice and / or pay and severance pay
    • Equal pay for equal work
    • Minimum wage (special rules apply for harvesters who are paid on a piece-work basis – see the Special Rule Tool
    • Vacation with pay (after being employed for 13 weeks as a harvester)
    • Public holidays (after being employed for 13 weeks as a harvester)
  5. “Near farmers”

  6. Near farmers are employees whose employment is directly related to:

    • The growing of flowers or trees and shrubs for the retail and wholesale trade
    • The growing, transporting and laying of sod
    • The breeding and boarding of horses on a farm
    • The keeping of fur-bearing mammals (as defined in the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997, and including foxes, lynxes, martens, mink and racoons) for propagation or commercial production of pelts

    What rights do “near farmers” have under the ESA?

    • Regular payment of wages and wage statements
    • Leaves of absence
    • Termination notice and / or pay and severance pay
    • Equal pay for equal work
    • Minimum wage
    • Vacation with pay
  7. Landscape gardeners

  8. Parks gardeners and greenskeepers on a golf course are considered to be “landscape gardening” employees. People working on retaining walls, and those who spray roads and industrial sites for weeks are not “landscape gardening” employees, nor are the office employees in a landscape gardening company.

    What rights do landscape gardeners have under the ESA?

    • Regular payment of wages and wage statements
    • Leaves of absence
    • Termination notice and /or pay and severance pay
    • Equal pay for equal work
    • Minimum wage
    • Eating periods and daily, weekly and biweekly rest periods
    • Vacation with pay

For more information or to file an ESA or EPFNA claim

Please note: Employers are prohibited from penalizing employees for asking about or exercising their ESA or EPFNA rights.

If you have questions about the ESA or the EPFNA, call the Ministry of Labour’s Employment Standards Information Centre at 416-326-7160, toll free at 1-800-531-5551, or TTY 1-866-567-8893. Information is available in multiple languages.

Information on the ESA can also be found at the Employment Standards section of the Ministry of Labour's website. To file a claim, you can access the Employment Standards Claim Form online.

Information about the EPFNA, including an online claim form, can be found at the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals page.

ESA and EPFNA Claim Forms are also available in hardcopy format at select ServiceOntario Centres. You may also order a copy through ServiceOntario Publications online, or by calling 1-800-668-9938; Hearing Impaired TTY 1-800-268-7095.

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help you understand some of the minimum rights and obligations established under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act, 2009 (EPFNA). It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the ESA, EPFNA or their regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation. Although we endeavor to ensure that the information in this resource is as current and accurate as possible, errors do occasionally occur. The ESA provides minimum standards only. Some employees may have greater rights under an employment contract, collective agreement, the common law or other legislation. You may wish to obtain legal advice.