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Minimum Wage

  • ISBN (HTML): 978-1-4435-4490-0
  • ISBN (PDF): 978-1-4435-4491-7
  • ISBN (Print): 978-1-4435-4489-4
  • Issued: September 2010
  • Revised:
  • April 2011
  • Content last reviewed: November 2011
  • PDF VersionPDF [ 295 Kb / 58 pages | Download Adobe Reader ]

This workbook has been prepared to assist employers and employees in understanding some of their obligations and rights under the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and its regulations. It does not take the place of the ESA and its regulations and it should not be considered to offer any legal advice on your particular situation.

The minimum wage is the lowest rate of pay per hour that an employer can pay an employee. Over recent years, the minimum wage has increased on an annual basis. Most employees are eligible for minimum wage. However, some businesses and/or employees are exempt. The Special Rule Tool can help you find out if this exemption applies to your situation.

What Kind of Employees Require Minimum Wage?

  • Full-time
  • Part-time
  • Casual
  • Those paid hourly rate
  • Those paid commission
  • Those paid piece rate
  • Those paid flat rate, or
  • Those paid salary

Minimum Wage Rates

Minimum Wage Type Description Value as of March 31, 2010

General Minimum Wage

Rate that applies to most employees

$10.25 per hour

Student Minimum Wage

Rate that applies to students under the age of 18 who work 28 hours a week or less when school is in session or work during a school holiday.

$9.60 per hour

Liquor Servers’ Minimum Wage

Rate that applies to employees who serve liquor directly to customers or guests in licensed premises as a regular part of their work.

Note: "Licensed premises" are businesses for which a license or permit has been issued under the Liquor License Act.

$8.90 per hour

Hunting and Fishing Guides' Minimum Wage

Rate is based on blocks of time instead of by the hour. They are entitled to one rate for working less than five consecutive hours in a day, and a different rate amount for working five hours or more in a day –whether or not the hours are consecutive.

$51.25 (rate for working fewer than five consecutive hours in day)

$102.50 (rate for working five or more hours in day, regardless if the hours are worked consecutively)

Homeworkers' Minimum Wage

Rate applies to employees who do paid work in their own homes. For example, they may sew clothes for a clothing manufacturer, answer telephone calls for a call centre or write software for a high-tech company.

Note: Students under the age of 18 who are employed as homeworkers must be paid the homeworkers' minimum wage.

110% of general minimum wage, which is $11.28 per hour

Calculating General Minimum Wage

Example: One week in April 2010, Julia works 37.5 hours. She is paid on a weekly basis. The minimum wage applicable to Julia is $10.25 per hour.

Since compliance with the minimum wage requirements is based on pay periods, Julia must earn at least $384.37 (37.5 hours × $10.25 per hour = $384.37) in this work week.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Eating periods are not included when counting how many hours an employee works in a week.

Calculating Minimum Wage for those on Commission

As in the case of most other employees, if an employee's pay is based completely or partly on commission, the total amount paid in a pay period when divided by the total hours the employee worked in the pay period must equal at least the minimum wage.

View An Example


Example: Luba works on commission and has a weekly pay period. One week in April 2010, she earned $150 in commission and worked 25 hours. The minimum wage is $10.25 per hour.

The minimum wage ($10.25) multiplied by the number of hours worked in the pay period (25 hours) is $256.25. Luba is owed the difference between her commission pay ($150.00) and the required regular pay at the minimum wage rate ($256.25). Luba's employer owes her $106.25.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The calculation is more complicated where overtime hours are worked. Industry-specific and job-specific exemptions and special rules may apply to some salespeople who earn commission. The Special Rule Tool can help you find out if this exemption applies to your situation.

Minimum Wage: Room and Board Provision

For the purposes of ensuring that the applicable minimum wage has been paid to an employee, an employer can take into account the provision of room or board (meals). Room and board will only be deemed to have been paid as wages if the employee has received the meals or occupied the room.

View An Example


Example: The amounts that are designated “paid to the employee” for room and board are calculated as a value on top of their wages (not deducted). For example, if Sam gets paid $381.30 per week and receives a private room and board, which is valued at $85.25, then he is deemed to be making $466.55 per week.

Calculating whether minimum wage has been paid: $466.55 per week/40 hours = $11.66 per hour.

Therefore, Sam is considered to have been paid at least the general minimum wage ($10.25 per hour).

For purposes of determining compliance with the minimum wage on the part of an employer who provides room or board to employees, the following amounts are deemed to have been paid to the employee as wages:

  1. Room (weekly)
    • Private $31.70
    • Non-private $15.85
    • Non-private (domestic workers only) $0
  2. Meals
    • Each meal $2.55
    • Weekly maximum $53.55
  3. Rooms and meals (weekly)
    • With private room $85.25
    • With non-private room $69.40
    • With non-private room (domestic workers only) $53.55
  4. Housing for harvesters (weekly)
    • Serviced housing $99.35
    • Unserviced housing $73.30

Miscellaneous Standards to Consider

Travel Time and Training Time

Travel time, time spent on mandatory training and, in certain circumstances, commuting time are considered to be hours of work for minimum wage purposes. Employers can establish different rates for different types of work as long as they are still complying with the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions.

Employees Sent Home after Working Less Than Three Hours

When an employee who regularly works more than three hours a day is required to report to work but works less than three hours, he or she must be paid whichever of the following amounts is the highest:

  • Three hours at a minimum wage; or,
  • The employee's regular wage for the time actually worked.

For example, if an employee who is a liquor server is paid $10 per hour and works only two hours, he or she is entitled to three hours at minimum wage.

The liquor servers’ minimum wage is $8.90 as of March 31, 2010, and is calculated by multiplying $8.90 per hour by three hours of work, which totals $26.70. She is entitled to three hours at minimum wage instead of two hours at her regular wage because $10 per hour x 2 hours of work equals only $20.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The rule does not apply to:

  1. Students of all ages.
  2. Employees whose regular shift is three hours or less.
  3. Situations where the cause of the employee not being able to work at least three hours was due to: fire, lightning, power failure, storms or similar cases beyond the employer’s control that resulted in a work stoppage.

When the Minimum Wage Changes

If the minimum wage rate changes during a pay period, the pay period will be treated as if it were two separate pay periods and the employee will be entitled to at least the minimum wage that applies in each of those periods.

Minimum Wage Checklist

Is the type of work your employees do not covered by (exempt from) minimum wage requirements according to the Special Rule Tool?

Yes No

You answered 'Yes', please refer to the Public Holiday Pay section of this workbook.

Is the work your employees do covered by “Special Rules” for minimum wage?

Yes No

You answered 'Yes', please verify that you are paying the correct minimum wage for that type of work.

Yes No

Please consider the following:

  1. Non-student employees who usually work more than three hours a day are paid the greater amount: their regular rate for the time worked or three hours at minimum wage when they are sent home before three hours (except where there is a work stoppage; see conditions above).
  2. Total earnings in a pay period for employees paid completely or partly by commission must equal at least the minimum wage for total hours worked.
  3. The same applies to employees paid on a piecework basis.

Questions? Call the Employment Standards Call Centre at 1-800-531-5551

Please complete our survey.

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