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Domestic Workers

  • Issued: August 2008
  • Revised: October 1, 2015
  • Content last reviewed: October 2015

This document is provided for your information and convenience only. It is not legal advice. For complete information, please refer to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and its regulations.

What is the purpose of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA)?

The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) sets out the rights and responsibilities of both employees and employers in Ontario workplaces. It also contains provisions that apply to people who are seeking employment with temporary help agencies and, in some cases, to clients of such agencies, even though the client business is not the employer of the person filing a claim under the ESA.

What is the Employment Standards Act, 2000?

The Employment Standards Act, 2000 sets out minimum rights for most employees in Ontario workplaces. It includes standards on payment of wages, public holidays, hours of work, overtime pay, vacation time and pay, statutory leaves, and termination and severance entitlements. If you are an employee working in Ontario, you are probably covered by the ESA. However, some employees are not covered by the ESA and some employees who are covered by the ESA have special rules and/or exemptions that may apply to them. For more information, visit

What are domestic workers?

Domestic workers are employed directly by householders, and not by a business or agency. An employee who is hired by a business, agency or any person other than the householder to perform homemaking services for a householder is classified as a 'homemaker' and subject to special rules and exemptions under the ESA. A householder is someone who owns or rents the home where the domestic work is done.

Domestic workers are hired to work in a private home. They do things such as housekeeping, or provide care, supervision or personal assistance to children or people who are elderly, ill or disabled.

Domestic workers have the same rights under the ESA whether they work part-time or full-time, and whether they live in or out of their employer's home.

A sitter who provides occasional, short-term care, supervision or personal assistance to children is not considered a domestic worker. Neither is someone who is employed by an agency to work in a private home.

Does the ESA cover domestic workers?

Yes. Domestic workers have the same rights as other employees in Ontario workplaces under the ESA.

In the past, 'domestic servants' were exempt from a number of parts of the employment standards laws, while 'domestics' were exempt from others. There is no longer a distinction between a domestic and a domestic servant.

What rights do domestic workers have under the ESA?

The ESA contains rules on the following key subjects that apply to most employees in Ontario, including domestic workers:

  • minimum wage
  • regular payment of wages
  • hours of work protections (e.g., maximum hours of work, daily and weekly/biweekly rest periods)
  • overtime pay
  • vacation with pay
  • public holidays
  • pregnancy and parental leave
  • personal emergency leave (applies only to employees whose employer regularly employs at least 50 employees)
  • family caregiver leave
  • family medical leave
  • critically ill child care leave
  • organ donor leave
  • reservist leave
  • crime-related child death or disappearance leave
  • termination notice and/or pay in lieu of notice
  • severance pay
  • equal pay for equal work

Changes in the law that came into force on May 20, 2015 required all employers, including those employing domestic workers to provide their current employees with a copy of the ministry’s Employment Standards Poster by June 19, 2015. Any domestic workers hired after May 20, 2015 must be provided with a copy of the poster within 30 days of the date of hire.

If an employee requests a copy of the poster in a language other than English and the ministry has published a version in that language, the employer must provide the translated version in addition to the English copy.

English and French versions of the poster are available at and multilingual versions are available at

For details on all of the employment standards listed above to which domestic workers are entitled, please see Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

What is the minimum wage rate for domestic workers?

The general minimum wage rate applies to domestic workers except to certain students.

Students under the age of 18:

  • who work no more than 28 hours a week when school is in session, or
  • who work during a school holiday (for example, March break, Christmas break, summer holidays)
  • are entitled to the student minimum wage. Students who work more than 28 hours a week when school is in session are entitled to the general minimum wage.

The table below sets out the general minimum wage and student wage rates:

General Minimum Wage and Student Wage Rates
Minimum Wage Rate October 1, 2015
General Minimum Wage $11.25 per hour
Student Minimum Wage $10.55 per hour

For more information see the chapter on “Minimum Wage” in Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

Can an employer take into account the provision of room and meals to a domestic worker when calculating minimum wage?

Yes, but there are limits. Room and/or meals (board) shall not be deemed to have been paid as wages unless the employee has received the meals or occupied the room.

An employee's gross pay, before any deductions are made for such things as Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Employment Insurance (EI) and income tax, must add up to at least the minimum wage for all hours worked. However, the ESA and regulations provide that certain amounts are deemed to have been paid if the employer provides the employee with room or board or both. The amounts that an employer is deemed to have paid for room or board or both are set out below:

Room: weekly

  • private: $31.70
  • non-private: $0.00[1]

An employer may only deem the provision of room and meals (board) as payment of wages to the employee where the room is reasonably furnished, reasonably fit for human habitation, supplied with clean bed linen and towels and is reasonably accessible to proper toilet and wash basin facilities.


  • each meal: $2.55
  • weekly maximum $53.55

Room and meals (board): weekly

  • private room: $85.25
  • non-private: $53.55[1]

[1]These amounts apply only to domestic workers.

Where the employee is paid minimum wage and has been provided with room and/or board, the employer is deemed to have paid the employee the amount allowed for room and/or board. The employer must therefore pay the employee (before deductions for such things as CPP, EI or income tax) the difference between the minimum wage for all hours worked and the amount deemed to have been paid for room and/or board.

What if the employer does not follow the ESA?

If an employee thinks the employer is not complying with the ESA, he or she can call the Employment Standards Information Centre at 416-326-7160 or toll free at 1-800-531-5551 for more information about the ESA and how to file a complaint. Complaints are investigated by an employment standards officer who can, if necessary, make orders against an employer-including an order to comply with the ESA. The ministry has a number of other options to enforce the ESA, including requesting voluntary compliance; issuing an order to pay wages; an order to reinstate and/or compensate; a notice of contravention; issuing a ticket or otherwise prosecuting the employer under the Provincial Offences Act.

For more information or to file a claim

If you have questions about the ESA, 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. Claim Forms are 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.

To access the Employment Standards Act, 2000 visit the Ontario government e-Laws website.