Table of Contents | Print Print This Page

Benefit Plans

  • ISBN: 978-1-4606-1988-9 (HTML)
  • ISBN: 978-1-4606-1987-2 (Print)
  • ISBN: 978-1-4606-1989-6 (PDF)
  • Revised: May 2013
  • Content last reviewed: May 2013
  • PDF VersionPDF [ 1.39 Mb / 200 pages | Download Adobe Reader ]

This guide is provided for your information and convenience only. It is not a legal document. For complete information, refer to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 and its regulations.

Employers are not required to provide employee benefit plans. However, if an employer does decide to provide them, the rules against discrimination under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) must be applied to certain plans.

The Anti-Discrimination Rule

The ESA prohibits discrimination between employees or their dependants, beneficiaries or survivors because of their age, sex or marital status.

There are some exceptions to the anti-discrimination rules. They are complex. If you require further information, please contact the Employment Standards Information Centre at 1-800-531-5551.

Plans Affected

The anti-discrimination rule applies to benefit plans including:

  • superannuation, retirement and pension benefits;
  • termination benefits;
  • death benefits (including life insurance plans);
  • disability benefits (including short-term and long-term disability plans);
  • sickness benefits;
  • accident benefits; and
  • medical, hospital, nursing, drug or dental benefits.

The rule against discrimination applies to both the plan's contribution requirements and its benefit payments.

Grounds on which Discriminations are not Allowed

The following distinctions between employees or their dependants, beneficiaries or survivors are not allowed.

Age

An employer cannot discriminate between employees who are 18 or over but under 65.

Sex

An employer cannot discriminate between male and female employees, or against pregnant employees. Also, there cannot be a distinction between employees because they are, or are not, the head of a household or the primary wage earner.

Marital Status

An employer cannot discriminate between single and married (whether same or opposite-sex couples) employees, including those who live in common-law marriages (whether same or opposite-sex couples), or against unmarried employees supporting dependent children.

While an Employee is on a Leave of Absence

An employee who is on pregnancy, parental, family medical, organ donor, personal emergency, declared emergency or reservist leave has the right to continue to participate in pension plans, life insurance plans, accidental death plans, extended health plans and dental plans during his or her leave. In addition, a female employee may be entitled to disability benefits during that period of the leave that she would otherwise have been absent from work for health reasons related to her pregnancy or childbirth.

Other benefit plans may allow employees on other types of leave to continue to participate in the plan while they are on leave. In that case, employees on pregnancy, parental, family medical, organ donor, personal emergency, declared emergency, or reservist leave are also allowed to continue to participate in such plans while they are on leave (this includes any leave negotiated between an employee or union and an employer that is longer than the ESA provides).

Previous | Next