Note: This document does not constitute legal advice. To determine your rights and obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Pay Equity Act, Labour Relations Act, and the Employment Standards Act, and their regulations, please contact your legal counsel or refer to the legislation.
You have the right:
Ontario’s Employment Standards Act sets minimum standards for things like pay, work hours and time off. Most workplaces in Ontario must follow this law. Your rights are the same whether you work full-time or part-time.
In Ontario, both men and women have the right to receive equal pay for doing work that may be very different in nature, but is of equal value. That right is protected by the Pay Equity Act.
The PEA requires employers to ensure employees in female job classes (jobs done mostly by women) are paid as much as workers in male job classes (jobs done mostly by men) when they are found to be comparable in value to the organization based on skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions.
The PEA covers male and female employees in female job classes of all public sector employers and of private sector employers with 10 or more employees in Ontario.
Employers are required to provide you with information about pay equity in your workplace. If you are represented by a union, your bargaining agent may be able to provide you with pay equity information.
Employers cannot fire or punish you for asking about pay equity or exercising your right to pay equity.
For more information or if you think that your employer has not achieved pay equity, please contact the Pay Equity Office at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Employment Standards Act also has provisions that ensure women and men receive equal pay for performing substantially the same job. That means work that requires the same skill, effort, responsibility, and is done under similar working conditions in the same establishment. Exceptions include: higher pay based on seniority, merit, a piecework system, etc.
Under Ontario’s Labour relations Act, you have the right to join a trade union and participate in legal union activities.
It’s against the law for an employer to fire you or discriminate against you for:
It’s also against the law for a union or employer to intimidate or coerce you to join or not join a union.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) sets out the rights and duties of workers, supervisors and employers in keeping workplaces safe and healthy in provincially regulated workplaces.
The right to know
You have the right to know about hazards in your workplace and to be trained how to protect yourself from harm. As of July 1, 2014, the law requires employers to make sure that all of their workers and supervisors have completed basic health and safety awareness training. This training outlines workers’, supervisors’ and employers’ rights, roles and responsibilities in keeping workplaces safe and healthy. This basic training for all workers and supervisors is in addition to other more detailed training required by law that depends on your workplace.
The right to refuse
You have the right to refuse unsafe work, including situations where you believe you’re in danger of workplace violence. Your employer cannot fire or discipline you for refusing unsafe work or for asking them to address a health and safety issue. Your employer can’t penalize you for following workplace health and safety laws and for obeying a Ministry of Labour inspector’s order. This would be an unlawful reprisal.
Report hazards and any violations of workplace health and safety law right away to your supervisor or employer. If you can’t get health and safety problems fixed at work, call the Ministry of Labour Health and Safety Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-202-0008. You don’t have to give your name. Services may be offered in various languages, in addition to English and French.
The right to participate
You also have the right to help identify and resolve workplace health and safety concerns. There are many ways you can do this, such as asking questions, raising concerns and giving positive feedback. One of the most effective ways you can get involved is to join the health and safety committee at your workplace.
To help employers make sure that each of their workers and supervisors receive basic health and safety awareness training, the Ministry of Labour provides a set of training programs at no charge in multiple formats and in multiple languages.
The training programs include:
Since October 1, 2012, employers have had to post the mandatory “Prevention Starts Here” poster in English and the majority language of the workplace. The poster is available at no cost for download on the Ministry of Labour website in various languages, and in print from ServiceOntario.
You can file a complaint for unlawful reprisal with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) toll-free at 1-877-339-3335. (It’s against the law for your employer to fire or discipline you for refusing unsafe work or missing work due to a work-related illness, etc.) Unionized workers can file a complaint with their union under their collective agreements. If the OLRB decides that your employer has broken the law, it may order your employer to pay your lost wages or give you your job back. If you do not belong to a union, you can get help to file a reprisal claim from the Office of the Worker Advisor (OWA); call toll-free 1-855-659-7744 or visit their website.
If you think you may have work-related health problems, you may call Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) toll-free at 1-877-817-0336. At an OHCOW clinic a medical doctor will assess you and decide if the health problem is work-related. Your medical information is confidential and you do not need an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card. Services are offered in many languages.
If you’re injured at work and the incident involves health care treatment and/or time away from work, or lost wages, your employer must report your injury/illness to the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) within three days of the incident. This can be done online or toll-free at 1-800-387-0750.
As a worker, you can claim benefits for a work-related injury or accident if you have received medical care, lost time or wages after the day of the incident, or continued to work, but on partial hours only. A WSIB claim must be filed within six months of your injury or the onset of your illness. Access the online form that workers must complete.
The Ministry of Labour has information to help you understand your workplace rights and responsibilities in many different languages.
All information provided anonymously by employees and third parties to the Employment Standards Information Centre about possible violations is passed to the appropriate Ministry staff for review and for possible proactive activity. It is important to note that not every “tip” results in a proactive activity, and that giving an anonymous tip does not give the individual who gave it any appeal rights.
Call the Health and Safety Contact Centre to report critical injuries, fatalities, work refusals or other concerns. Services provided in many languages. Toll-free: 1-877-202-0008. You can also e-mail your questions to email@example.com. Reponses will be made within 5 business days. In an emergency, always call 911 immediately. TTY: 1-855-653-9260.