• Issued: September 2010
  • Content last reviewed: January 2018

This workbook has been prepared to assist employers and employees in understanding some of their obligations and rights under the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and its regulations. It does not take the place of the ESA and its regulations and it should not be considered to offer any legal advice on your particular situation.

Who is the Workbook for?

This Workbook is a tool designed to help Ontario employers and employees understand and comply with the Employment Standards Act (ESA), which sets out minimum standards that workplace parties have to follow.

How is it useful?

Thousands of employment standards claims are filed each year. Some of these complaints result in hundreds of businesses being prosecuted each year in Ontario.

In a Claim or an Inspection

If an employee files an employment standards claim against an employer, the employer will receive a notice from the Ministry of Labour. Sometimes a claim can be settled without an investigation. This Workbook may help both employers and employees understand whether a claim is valid and determine the best way to resolve it.

The Employment Standards Program conducts proactive inspections. Businesses are selected using various methods, such as randomly, or based on sector or past claims history, etc. If a violation is found, a variety of enforcement tools may be issued such as: a Compliance Order, a Notice of Contravention or an Order to Pay; there could also be a Certificate of Offence issued or other prosecution initiated under the Provincial Offences Act. The inspection will generally include a review of the employer’s payroll records, and interviews with the employer and a number of employees.

How do I use the Workbook?

The Workbook has been designed with a busy person in mind – you! It addresses some of the core standards that make up the Employment Standards Act (ESA). The Workbook presents the information in a clear and understandable way for easy reading.

However, the Workbook does not cover every obligation and right found in the ESA and its regulations. Consulting Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act, 2000 will provide you with more complete information on these topics.

The 12 standards covered in this Workbook:

  1. The ESA Poster
  2. Payment of Wages and Wage Statements
  3. Deductions from Wages
  4. Tips and Other Gratuities
  5. Record Keeping
  6. Hours of Work
  7. Eating Periods
  8. Overtime Pay
  9. Minimum Wage
  10. Public Holidays
  11. Vacation with Pay
  12. Termination and Severance

Additional resources found in each chapter:

  • Important links
  • Examples and exercises to help you
  • Checklists
  • Interactive tools

Before getting started, here are some helpful hints:

  • We strongly suggest that you refer to the Special Rule Tool, which will help you determine if your industry or occupation is exempt from a standard or subject to a special rule. This, and other tools, can be found at Ontario.ca/ESAtools.
  • If you wish to speak to someone about your specific situation, please contact our Employment Standards Information Centre toll-free at 1-800-531-5551 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. Service is available in multiple languages.
  • Certain industries are not covered by the ESA, but by federal law. For more information, see this list of Federally Regulated Businesses and Industries.

Previous | Next

Questions? Call the Employment Standards Call Centre at 1-800-531-5551

Please complete our survey.