The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) sets out the rights and responsibilities of both employees and employers in Ontario workplaces. It also contains provisions that apply to people who are seeking employment with temporary help agencies and, in some cases, to clients of such agencies, even though the client business is not the employer of the person filing a claim under the ESA.
The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) sets out minimum rights for most employees in Ontario workplaces. It includes standards on payment of wages, public holidays, hours of work, overtime pay, vacation time and pay, statutory leaves, and termination and severance entitlements. If you are an employee working in Ontario, you are probably covered by the ESA. However, some employees are not covered by the ESA and some employees who are covered by the ESA have special rules and/or exemptions that may apply to them. For more information, visit Ontario.ca/ESAguide.
Homeworkers are employees who do paid work out of their own homes for an employer (e.g., online research, preparing food for resale, sewing, telephone soliciting, manufacturing, word processing).
Independent contractors are not homeworkers under the ESA.
No, homeworkers are not the same as domestic workers. Homeworkers do paid work out of their own homes for an employer. In contrast, domestic workers work in a private home directly for the person who owns or rents the home. They do things such as housekeeping and cooking, or provide care, supervision or personal assistance to children or people who are elderly, ill or disabled.
Here is an example of the difference between homeworkers and domestic workers: employees who prepare food at home for resale by their employer are homeworkers, but employees who prepare food in a private residence for the people living there to eat are domestic workers.
Homeworkers are eligible for:
Changes in the law that came into force on May 20, 2015 required all employers, including those employing homeworkers, to provide their current employees with a copy of the ministry’s Employment Standards Poster by June 19, 2015. Any homeworkers hired on or after May 20, 2015 must be provided with a copy of the poster within 30 days of the date of hire.
If an employee requests a copy of the poster in a language other than English and the ministry has published a version in that language, the employer must provide the translated version in addition to the English copy.
Note: there are rules about qualifying for some of the ESA protections listed above.
For information please see Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act, 2000.
Minimum wage is the lowest hourly wage an employer can pay employees. There is a special minimum wage rate for homeworkers that is higher than the general minimum wage rate. A homeworker is entitled to a minimum wage rate of $12.40 per hour.
Both full-time and part-time homeworkers are entitled to this rate. Students of any age who are employed as homeworkers must also be paid the homeworkers' minimum wage.
The table below sets out the general minimum wage and the homeworkers' minimum wage rates:
|Minimum Wage Rate||October 1, 2015|
|General Minimum Wage||$11.25 per hour|
|Homeworkers' Minimum Wage||$12.40 per hour|
The amount that a homeworker is paid must be at least equal to minimum wage. Homeworkers who are paid on a piece-work rate--a way of calculating pay that is based on the amount of work an employee completes, and not on the hours worked--can calculate whether they are being paid at least the minimum wage in the following way:
Take the total amount earned over the pay period and divide it by the number of hours worked in the same period for an average hourly rate. Compare that amount to the homeworkers' minimum wage rate in effect over that same pay period. (If overtime hours were worked, the calculation is more complicated.)
A homeworker received $240.75 as piece-work pay for the pay period October 2 to October 8, 2015 as payment for 25 hours of work in that pay period. The homeworker received the equivalent of $9.63 an hour in that pay period but the homeworkers’ minimum wage rate in effect from October 1, 2015 was $12.40.
Based on the homeworkers' minimum wage, the employee should have earned at least $310.00.Result: The employer must therefore pay an additional $69.25 to the employee ($310.10 minus $240.75).
Please see "What written job details must an employer give a homeworker?" (below) for information on the requirement that homeworkers' wage statements include the amount of the piece-work rate(s).
Certain requirements apply only to homeworkers. Employers must advise homeworkers in writing of:
 "Manufacture" includes preparation, improvement, repair, alteration, assembly or completion.
Employers must keep detailed records of hours worked, wages and deductions. They must give all employees a written wage statement with each pay that shows the full details of the pay period.
The written wage statement must set out:
Employers who employ homeworkers are required to keep a register containing the name, address and wage rate(s) of the homeworker. This must be kept for three years after the homeworker has stopped working for the employer.
In addition, all employers in Ontario, including anyone who employs homeworkers, must keep written records about each person they hire.
Employee records can be retained either by employers or by someone else on their behalf, but must be readily available for inspection. The period of retention varies depending on the information. For example, the employee's name, address and starting date must be retained for three years after the employee ceases to be employed by that employer. The number of hours the employee worked in each day and each week must be retained for three years after the day or week in question.
Each employee's written record must contain:
Note: An employee is entitled to information about his or her vacation time and pay entitlement once with respect to each completed vacation entitlement year or stub period, on written request to the employer. For more information please refer to the Vacation chapter of Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act, 2000.
If an employee receives a fixed salary for each pay period, and the salary doesn't change unless the employee works overtime, the employer is only required to record:
If an employee thinks the employer is not complying with the ESA, he or she can call the Employment Standards Information Centre at 416-326-7160 or toll free at 1-800-531-5551 for more information about the ESA and how to file a complaint. Complaints are investigated by an employment standards officer who can, if necessary, make orders against an employer—including an order to comply with the ESA. The ministry has a number of other options to enforce the ESA, including requesting voluntary compliance, issuing an order to pay wages, an order to reinstate and/or compensate /or a notice of contravention, or issuing a ticket or otherwise prosecuting the employer under the Provincial Offences Act.
If you have questions about the ESA, call the Ministry of Labour's Employment Standards Information Centre at 416-326-7160, toll free at 1-800-531-5551, or TTY 1-866-567-8893. Information is available in multiple languages.
Information on the ESA can also be found at the Employment Standards section of the Ministry of Labour's website.
To file a claim, you can access the Employment Standards Claim Form online. Claim Forms are available in hardcopy format at select ServiceOntario Centres. You may also order a copy through ServiceOntario Publications online, or by calling 1-800-668-9938; Hearing Impaired TTY 1-800-268-7095.
To access the Employment Standards Act, 2000 visit the Ontario government e-Laws website.
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.