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Chapter 5 – Employment Standards

  • Issued: July 27, 2016
  • Content last reviewed: July 2016

See also: The Changing Workplaces Review


This section gives a brief overview not only of the present Act, the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), but also of its evolution.

The Act sets out minimum rights and responsibilities that apply to employees and employers in most Ontario workplaces in such areas as:

  • hours of work and overtime pay;
  • minimum wage;
  • job-protected leave;
  • public holidays;
  • vacation;
  • termination and severance of employment;
  • equal pay for equal work; and
  • temporary help agencies.

These core standards are described in section 5.3.[116]

Employers and employees cannot contract out of, or waive, minimum standards under the ESA. Any such agreements are null and void. Employers can, however, offer greater rights or benefits than the ESA’s minimum standards. If a provision in an agreement gives an employee a greater right or benefit than a minimum employment standard under the ESA, that provision applies to the employee instead of the employment standard.

As set out in section 5.2, a central feature of the Act and regulations is a complex web of more than 85 exemptions, partial exemptions, qualifying conditions, etc., which limit its application.

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