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Are You Covered by the Employment Standards Act?

  • Issued: August 2008
  • Revised: March 18, 2013
  • Content last reviewed: January 2018


What is the purpose of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA)?

The ESA sets out rights of employees and requirements that apply to employers in most Ontario workplaces.

What work is not covered by the ESA?

Most employees and employers in Ontario are covered by the ESA. However, the ESA does not apply to certain individuals and persons or organizations for whom they may perform work, including:

  • Employees in sectors that fall under federal jurisdiction, such as airlines, banks, the federal civil service, post offices, radio and television stations and inter-provincial railways
  • Individuals performing work under a program approved by a college of applied arts and technology or university
  • Individuals performing work under a program approved by a private career college that is registered under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005
  • A secondary school student who performs work under a program authorized by the school board that operates the school in which the student is enrolled
  • People who do community participation under the Ontario Works Act, 1997
  • Police officers (except for the Lie Detectors part of the ESA, which does apply)
  • Inmates taking part in work or rehabilitation programs, or young offenders who perform work as part of a sentence or order of a court
  • People who hold political, judicial, religious or elected trade union offices.

The Special Rule Tool can also tell you about employees who are not covered by certain parts of the ESA, or who are covered by special rules that change how some parts apply.

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help employees and employers understand some of the minimum rights and obligations established under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the ESA or regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation. Although we endeavor to ensure that the information in this resource is as current and accurate as possible, errors do occasionally occur. The ESA provides minimum standards only. Some employees may have greater rights under an employment contract, collective agreement, the common law or other legislation. Employers and employees may wish to obtain legal advice.

Employment Standards Information Centre
416-326-7160 (Greater Toronto Area) 
1-800-531-5551 (toll free Canada-wide) 
1-866-567-8893 (TTY for hearing impaired)