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Before You Start

Information you need to know about filing an Employment Standards Claim

Read the following information about Employment Standards Claims

What is the Employment Standards Act, 2000?

The Employment Standards Act, 2000 is a law that sets minimum employment standards in most Ontario workplaces. Examples of minimum employment standards are:

  • Payment of Wages
  • Eating Periods
  • Minimum Wage
  • Public Holidays
  • Overtime Pay
  • Vacation
  • Pregnancy and Parental Leave
  • Personal Emergency Leave
  • Family Medical Leave
  • Limits on Hours of Work
  • Rest Periods
  • Termination of Employment
  • Severance Pay
  • Reprisals
  • Temporary Help Agencies

Am I covered by the Employment Standards Act, 2000?

If you are an employee working in Ontario, you are probably covered by the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

However, some employees are not covered by the Employment Standards Act, 2000. Some have special rules that apply to them. For more information, please see page 2 of the Claim Guide or try our Special Rule Tool.

What if I was covered by a collective agreement when the problem happened?

You should ask your union representative for help. Generally, you cannot file a claim with the Ministry of Labour.

If I have started a court action, can I file a claim with the Ministry of Labour?

If you have already started a court action, you generally cannot file a claim with the Ministry of Labour about the same matter. (There are some exceptions.) For more information, visit Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

If I file a claim with the Ministry of Labour, can I also start a court action?

If you file a claim with the Ministry of Labour, you generally cannot start a court action unless you withdraw your claim within two weeks of the date you filed the claim. If you have any questions about court actions, we suggest that you consult a lawyer before filing this claim.

Is there a time limit on filing a claim?

With some exceptions, the Ministry of Labour can only recover wages that became due within six months before the claim is filed. For more information, visit Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

Is there a limit on the amount of money the Ministry of Labour can make my employer pay?

With some exceptions, $10,000 is the maximum amount that the Ministry of Labour can order an employer to pay an employee. For more information, visit Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

What if I have already filed a claim?

If you have already filed an Employment Standards claim against the same employer and an employment standards officer has not made a decision on your claim, please do not file another Employment Standards claim against the employer. Refer to your confirmation letter for details on changing information to your claim.

What if I believe my employer has not followed the Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act (Live-in Caregivers and Others), 2009?

The Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act (Live-in Caregivers and Others), 2009 (“EPFNA”) is a different law from the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

If you are concerned about an Employment Protection for Foreign Nationals Act (Live-in Caregivers and Others), 2009 violation, you must file an EPFNA claim using the correct form. This is not the form you use to make a claim under the EPFNA. View the EPFNA claim form. For more information call the Employment Standards Information Centre at 416 326-7160 or 1 800 531-5551 toll-free about your rights under the EPFNA.

Where can I find information about other workplace laws?

The Employment Standards Act, 2000 covers only some of the rules in Ontario workplaces. To find out more information about federal and other provincial laws relating to employment, please see Where can I find information about other workplace laws? in the Claim Guide.

Need more information or help?

For help filling out the Claim Form, please see the section Need More Help? in the Claim Guide or contact the Employment Standards Information Centre at 416 326-7160 or 1-800-531-5551. Service is available in multiple languages.

Steps to filing an Employment Standards Claim

Step 1: Have you contacted your employer?

For information on reasons why employees may not need to contact their employers, see Do I have to Contact My Employer?

For more information about how to contact your employer, see How to Contact Your Employer.

  • In the first section of the Claim Form, we want you to tell us about your experience contacting your employer concerning the employment standards issue(s) that your claim is about.
  • If you have not already tried to contact your employer, you will generally need to do so before your claim will be investigated.
  • Some employees may have good reasons for not contacting their employer. For more information about this, please see Do I have to Contact My Employer?.
  • If you do contact your employer about your employment standards issue, you may wish to use some of the tools we have created.
  • We have created some worksheets to help you figure out how much money may be owed to you. See Appendix B in the Claim Guide to find these worksheets.
  • Once you know how much your employer owes you, bring the information to your employer.
  • You may wish to fill in and send to your employer the template letter and Request for Payment form.
  • Please wait a few days to give your employer a chance to get back to you (e.g. 7 to 10 days). If your issue is not resolved by then, you may want to file a claim.

Step 2: Collect important documents

For more information on important documents to collect, see the section Collect Important Documents in the Claim Guide.

  • Filling in the Claim Form, can sometimes be easier if you have some documents with you. However, you may not have access to all the documents that you need to fill out the Claim Form. If you do not have these documents, do the best you can to fill out the Claim Form with as much detail as possible.
  • These documents can also help with the investigation of your claim. You may be asked to send photocopies of these documents.

Step 3: Fill out the Claim Form

  • The Claim Form, asks you to give a lot of detailed information. It may take you an hour or more to complete it.
  • Please write your name at the top of each page, and include your telephone number, if possible.
  • For help filling out this Claim Form, see Instructions for Completing the Claim Form in the Claim Guide or call the Employment Standards Information Centre at 416-326-7160 or 1-800-531-5551. Service is available in multiple languages.
  • It may be helpful to use the worksheets in Appendix B of the Claim Guide to help figure out the amount of money you are owed.
  • It is important to fill in the Claim Form as best you can. The basic information we need from you is marked by asterisks (*). Missing information may cause a delay in processing your claim or in some cases may cause your claim to be returned so that you can fill in the missing information.
  • If you do not know the answer to a question marked with an asterisk, you must write “unknown.” If the question does not apply to your situation, you must write “not applicable” or “n/a.”
  • The Ministry of Labour will try to contact you if certain information is missing.
  • Once we have all the information we need to investigate your claim, we will contact you with your claim number and your claim will move forward for investigation.

Step 4: Send your Claim Form to the Ministry of Labour and receive your claim submission number

It is recommended that you file your claim submission online.

You will receive your claim submission number immediately.

You may also file your claim submission:

  • By fax at 1-888-252-4684.
  • In person at a ServiceOntario Centre (1-800-267-8097).
  • By mail to:

    Provincial Claims Centre
    Ministry of Labour
    70 Foster Drive, Suite 410
    Roberta Bondar Place
    Sault Ste. Marie ON P6A 6V4.

Note: If you file your claim submission by fax, in person or by mail, you will receive a letter in the mail with your claim number once all of your required information has been verified. If your claim submission is missing required information, you will receive a letter in the mail with your claim submission number, and a request to provide more information.

Please only file your claim submission once. For example, if you have filed your claim online, please do not send another copy of your Claim Form to the Ministry of Labour.

Do I have to contact my employer?

If you have an issue with your employer related to your employment standards, you should try to contact your employer about the matter. Issues can often be resolved quickly with this approach. Using the optional worksheets and letter provided by the Ministry of Labour in this Before You Start booklet may make this process easier, but you do not have to use them.

Some people may have a good reason for not contacting their employer. Some examples of good reasons occur when:

  • You already tried to contact your employer.
  • The money owed to you is from five months ago or more (there are time limits, see It is Important for you to File a Claim Submission Within a Certain Time in the Claim Guide.
  • Your workplace has closed down.
  • Your employer has gone bankrupt or is in receivership.
  • You are afraid to do so.
  • Your issue does not involve money.
  • You are or were working as a live-in caregiver.
  • You have difficulty in the language spoken by your employer.
  • You are a young employee.
  • You have a disability that makes it difficult for you to contact your employer, or
  • There is a reason relating to a ground under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

In section A3 of the Claim Form, you can tell us why you cannot contact your employer. If none of the reasons listed describe your situation and if you feel that you have a good reason not to contact your employer about your employment standards issue, you will have an opportunity to explain why on the Claim Form.

For more information, please contact the Employment Standards Information Centre at 416-326-7160 or 1-800-531-5551.

Note: If you are a unionized employee, you should first talk to your union representative if you think your rights have been violated.

Tools you can use to contact your employer

If you are able to contact your employer to try to resolve the issue, there are some tools to help you, including:

You do not have to use these tools, but some people find them helpful to resolve their issues.

Please wait a few days to give your employer a chance to get back to you (e.g. 7 to 10 days). If your issue is not resolved by then, you may want to fill out the claim form. You may have already tried to contact your employer. If so, fill out the Claim Form.

About the Employer Notice

In this booklet you will find an Employer Notice. If you would like to use it, simply attach the Employer Notice to the information and documents you provide to your employer.

About the Information Letter

In this booklet you will find an optional Information Letter. If you would like to use it, simply write your name in the blank spaces, make a copy for yourself, and give the original copy to your employer.

About the Request for Payment Form

In this booklet you will find an optional Request for Payment form. This form will help you explain to your employer what money you are owed. For more information about how to use this form, see How to Contact Your Employer of this booklet.

How to contact your employer

The Ministry of Labour has created some tools and four steps to help you contact your employer about your employment standards issue(s). You do not have to use these tools, but some people find them useful to help them resolve their issues. If you are comfortable doing so, you are encouraged to follow these steps and use the tools.

If you contact your employer, be sure to keep notes and copies of what you send to them, since you will need these documents if you want your claim investigated.

Step A: Fill out worksheets

Fill out the worksheet(s) you need, found in Appendix B of the Claim Guide, to figure out the amount of money you are owed. Then fill in the Request for Payment Form.

Helpful Tips

  • You will find a worksheet for each employment standard that involves money (such as overtime, public holiday pay, or termination pay) in the Claim Guide. These worksheets will help you determine how much money you might be owed.
  • Fill out the worksheet(s) you need based on what is owed to you (For example, if you were not paid minimum wage, complete the Minimum Wage Worksheet). Only fill out the worksheet(s) you need. Examples have been provided on the back of each worksheet to help you correctly fill it out.
  • It may be helpful to have some documents such as pay-stubs or a calendar in front of you before you fill out the worksheets.

Request for Payment Form

After completing the worksheet(s), you will want to copy the “Total Amount Owed” on each worksheet you used to the matching box on the Request for Payment Form. Once you have filled in each box, add the numbers together and enter the amount into the shaded box at the bottom of the chart. This box shows the total amount you are requesting the employer to pay. Attach copies of your worksheet(s) to the Request for Payment Form. For more information or help with completing the worksheets, please contact the Employment Standards Information Centre at 416-326-7160 or 1-800-531-5551.

Step B: Include proof, if you have any, to show your employer.

If you have any records or documents to support your claim that you are owed money under the Employment Standards Act, 2000, then make photocopies and include these with your worksheet(s).

Here are some examples:

  • Contract of Employment
  • Record of Employment (“separation papers”)
  • Schedules
  • NSF (bounced) cheques returned by a bank
  • Wage statements/pay stubs
  • Personal records of hours worked
  • Revenue Canada T4 slips
  • Time cards

Some employers may not give you all of the documents that you need to support your claim. If this has happened to you, please call the Ministry of Labour at 1-800-531-5551. If you do not have any other documents to show that you are owed money under the Employment Standards Act, 2000, send your employer a copy of the worksheet(s).

Step C: Fill out letter and put together employer contact package

Attach the letters “Employer Notice” and “Information Letter”, included in this booklet. Fill in the Information Letter with your contact information, make a photocopy of the complete package you are sending to the employer, and keep the copy for your records. Your complete package should include:

  • Employer Notice
  • Information Letter
  • Request for Payment Form
  • Completed worksheet(s), and
  • A copy of all supporting documents

Make sure you keep a copy of everything you send to your employer for your own records, in case the employer does not pay what you are owed and an investigation is needed.

You do not have to use these tools, however some people find them useful to help them to resolve their employment standards issues.

Step D: Send your completed employer contact package to your employer.

Send your complete package - completed worksheet(s), the Request for Payment Form, letter(s) and supporting documents - to your employer by:

  • Regular mail
  • Fax
  • Registered mail
  • Personal delivery
  • Courier
  • Email

Be sure to keep registered mail receipts or fax confirmation reports for your records. Please wait a few days to give your employer a chance to get back to you (e.g. 7 to 10 days).

Tools

Employer Notice

Information Letter

Request for Payment Form

This information is provided as a public service. Although we endeavour to ensure that the information is as current and accurate as possible, errors do occasionally occur. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information. Readers should, where possible, verify the information before acting on it.

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