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Steps to filing an Employment Standards Claim

Step 1: Contact your employer

Employees are encouraged to contact their employer about their ESA issue(s) before filing a claim. Issues can often be resolved quickly with this approach. Some people may have a good reason for not contacting their employer. Some examples of good reasons are as follows:

  • You already tried to contact your employer.
  • Your workplace has closed down.
  • Your employer has gone bankrupt.
  • You are afraid to contact your employer.
  • Your issue does not involve money.
  • You have difficulty communicating in the language spoken by your employer.
  • You are a young employee.
  • You have a disability that makes it difficult for you to contact your employer, or
  • There is a reason relating to the Ontario Human Rights Code.

You may have a reason for not contacting your employer that is not listed. You will have the opportunity to explain your reason on the Claim Form.

For information on contacting your employer, please see Appendix A – How to Contact your Employer.

Step 2: Collect and keep important documents

Completing the Claim Form may be easier if you have the relevant documents with you. If you do not have the documents, do the best you can to fill out the Claim Form with as much detail as possible – you do not have to have these documents in order to file a claim.

Here is a list of some documents that may be helpful when completing your claim. These documents can also help with the claim investigation. Keep these documents but do not send the documents to us until requested.

Employment Standards Contravention

Regular pay, overtime pay, public holidays/ public holiday pay, or minimum wage

Do you have these documents?

  • Pay stubs for the period(s) you believe you are owed wages.
  • Pay cheques, including those that have "bounced", or are "NSF" ("non-sufficient funds").
  • Records of the hours you have worked (for example, timesheets, attendance records, calendar, diary, or notes).
  • Written contract of employment, if there is one.

Vacation pay/ vacation time

Do you have these documents?

  • Pay stubs for the periods you believe you are owed vacation pay and/or any pay stubs that show payment of vacation pay.
  • Pay cheques, including those that have "bounced", or are "NSF" ("non-sufficient funds").
  • Records of the hours you have worked (for example, timesheets, attendance records, calendar, diary, or notes).
  • T4 Slips. This document is used for income tax purposes to show exactly how much money you made while working and any deductions that were made.
  • Written contract of employment, if there is one.
  • Record of Employment form. This federal document shows your work history with your employer.

Tips and other gratuities

Do you have these documents?

  • Copies of bills or credit card receipts indicating tips and other gratuities.
  • Any contracts or documents that set out tip pooling policies or practices.
  • Any other records you may have kept indicating tips and other gratuities you earned.

Unauthorized deductions from wages, tips and other gratuities

Do you have these documents?

  • Pay stubs for the periods you believe there were deductions from your pay cheque.
  • Pay cheques showing deductions from your pay.
  • Records of the hours you have worked (for example, timesheets, attendance records, calendar, diary, or notes).
  • Written authorizations, if there are any.
  • Copies of bills, credit card receipts or other documents indicating tips and other gratuities.
  • Any contracts or documents that set out tip pooling policies or practices.

Termination pay or severance pay

Do you have these documents?

  • Pay stubs showing your weekly rate of pay.
  • Pay cheques, including those that have "bounced", or are "NSF" ("non-sufficient funds").
  • Records of the hours you have worked (for example, timesheets, attendance records, calendar, diary, or notes).
  • Written contract of employment, if there is one.
  • Record of Employment form. This federal document shows your work history with your employer.
  • Written notice of termination, if received.
  • Any warning letters or notices received.

Temporary help agency charged a prohibited fee

Do you have these documents?

  • Pay stubs where fees have been charged.
  • Records of the hours you have worked (for example, timesheets, attendance records, calendar, diary, or notes).
  • Written contract of employment, if there is one.
  • Any receipts, invoices, or cancelled cheques relating to fees charged by the Temporary Help Agency.

Temporary help agency did not provide required information

Do you have these documents?

  • Any information provided by the agency concerning the agency, relevant work and/or ESA rights.

Temporary help agency restricted the client from hiring you or providing you with references

Do you have these documents?

  • Any warning letters or notices received.
  • Any notes you kept from discussions with the Client or the Temporary Help Agency about hiring you for the job.

Limits on hours of work (eating periods, excess daily or weekly hours, rest periods between days/shifts)

Do you have these documents?

  • Records of the hours you have worked (for example, timesheets, attendance records, calendar, diary, or notes).
  • Written contract of employment, if there is one.

Leaves of absence

Do you have these documents?

  • Documents related to a leave of absence (for example, a medical certificate).
  • Written contract of employment, if there is one.
  • Record of Employment form. This federal document shows your work history with your employer.
  • Any warning letters or notices received.
  • For family caregiver leave, family medical leave and/or critically ill child care leave, you may use the Ministry’s Medical Certificate to Support Entitlement [PDF, 197 Kb].

Reprisal by the employer (which includes a temporary help agency)

Do you have these documents?

  • Written notice of termination, if received.
  • Any warning letters or notices received.
  • Time sheets or other records that show changes in your hours of work or shifts.

Reprisal by the client business of the temporary help agency

Do you have these documents?

  • Written notice of termination, if received.
  • Any warning letters or notices received.
  • Time sheets or other records that show changes in your hours of work or shifts.

Step 3: Fill out the Claim Form

  • The Claim Form asks you to give a lot of detailed information. It may take you an hour or more to complete it.
  • It is important to fill in the Claim Form as best you can. The basic information we need from you is marked by asterisks (*). Missing information may cause a delay in processing your claim.
  • If you do not know the answer to a question marked with an asterisk, you must record "unknown." If the question does not apply to your situation, you must record "not applicable" or "n/a."
  • Providing complete and accurate information for all other fields ensures that your claim will be processed in a timely manner.
  • The Ministry of Labour will try to contact you if certain information is missing.

Step 4: Submit your claim and receive a claim number

We recommend that you file your claim online at the Ministry of Labour website.

If you file your claim online, you will immediately receive your claim number and a letter that confirms that you filed a claim. You will be able to print and/or save a copy of your claim and confirmation of filing a claim letter.

You may also file your claim:

By fax at 1-888-252-4684.

In person at select ServiceOntario Centres (1-800-267-8097).

By mail to:

Provincial Claims Centre
Ministry of Labour
70 Foster Drive, Suite 410
Roberta Bondar Place
Sault Ste. Marie ON P6A 6V4

Note: If you file your claim by fax, in person, or by mail, we will send you a letter with your claim number.

Please file your claim only once.

What happens after you file your claim?

Once your claim has been reviewed and all required information has been provided, an ESO will be assigned to investigate your claim. This is usually done by contacting the employer and/or client and by inspecting both the employer’s and/or client’s records and any records you may have kept. The ESO may also interview you, the employer, and other people.

The ESA allows claimants and employers and/or clients to resolve a claim by entering into a written settlement. A settlement can take place at any point in the claim process. If a settlement is reached, the ministry is to be notified in writing. Provided the claimant and employer do what they agreed to do in the written settlement document, the claim is considered to be withdrawn and any investigation relating to that claim ends. You are not required to enter into a settlement.

The ESO will make a decision based on all of the relevant information, including the employer’s records, client’s records, employee’s records, and interviews.

You may be required to attend a meeting with the ESO. Should this happen, you will receive a letter setting out the time, date, and place of the meeting. The employer and/or client may also be required to attend this meeting. You should bring along any documents or witnesses that you think will support your case. You may also bring your representative to the meeting, if you have one. There will be an opportunity for both parties to explain what happened.

Once all the evidence is reviewed, the ESO will decide if the employer or client complied with the ESA.

If the ESO determines the ESA was not complied with, the employer may resolve the issue by voluntarily complying with the ESO’s decision, or the ESO may issue an Order, Notice of Contravention, or take other enforcement action against the employer and/or client.

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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.