• 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.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This resource is for illustrative purposes only. The minimum wage rates will increase to new set amounts on both January 1, 2018 and January 1, 2019. On October 1 of every year starting in 2019, the minimum wage rates will be subject to annual indexation based on the rate of inflation. The new rates to come into effect on October 1 will be published on or before April 1 of the same year. For the current rates, please visit Ontario.ca/minimumwage.

The minimum wage is the lowest hourly pay rate that an employer can pay an employee. Most employees are eligible for minimum wage. However, a few employers and employees are exempt. To see if this exemption applies to your situation, please see the Special Rule Tool.

Employees Who Must Receive Minimum Wage

  • Full-time
  • Part-time
  • Casual
  • Those paid hourly rate
  • Those paid a commission (where, in the case of sales commissions, the employee is a route salesperson or the sales or offers to purchase goods or services are normally made at the employer’s place of business)
  • Those paid a piece rate
  • Those paid a flat rate, or
  • Those paid a salary

Minimum Wage Rates

Minimum Wage Type Description Amount as of January 1, 2018
General Minimum Wage Rate that applies to most employees $14 per hour
Student Minimum Wage Rate that applies to students under the age of 18 who work 28 hours a week or less when school is in session or work during a school holiday. $13.15 per hour
Liquor Servers’ Minimum Wage Rate that applies to employees who, as a regular part of their employment, serve liquor directly to customers, guests, members or patrons in licensed premises and who regularly receive tips or other gratuities as part of their work.

Note: "Licensed premises" are businesses for which a license or permit has been issued under the Liquor License Act.
$12.20 per hour
Hunting and Fishing Guides' Minimum Wage Rate is based on blocks of time instead of by the hour. They are entitled to one rate for working less than five consecutive hours in a day, and a different rate amount for working five hours or more in a day – whether or not the hours are consecutive. $70 (rate for working fewer than five consecutive hours in day)

$140 (rate for working five or more hours in a day, regardless if the hours are worked consecutively)
Homeworkers' Minimum Wage Rate applies to employees who do paid work in their own homes. For example, they may sew clothes for a clothing manufacturer, answer telephone calls for a call centre or write software for a high-tech company.

Note: Students under the age of 18 who are employed as homeworkers must be paid the homeworkers' minimum wage.
$15.40 per hour

Calculating General Minimum Wage

Example: Julia worked 37.5 hours in one week. She is paid on a weekly basis. The minimum wage applicable to Julia is $14 per hour.

Since compliance with minimum wage is based on pay periods, Julia must earn at least $525 (37.5 hours × $14 per hour = $525) in this work week.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Eating periods are not included when counting how many hours an employee works in a week.

Calculating Minimum Wage for Those on Commission

As in the case of most other employees, if an employee's pay is based completely or partly on commission, and the employee’s sales or offers to purchase goods or services are normally made at the employer’s place of business (or the employee is a route salesperson), the total amount paid for a pay period divided by the total hours the employee worked must equal at least the minimum wage.

Example: Luba works on commission and has a weekly pay period. One week, she earned $150 in commission and worked 25 hours. The minimum wage is $14 an hour.

The minimum wage ($14) multiplied by the number of hours worked in the pay period (25 hours) is $350.00. Luba is owed the difference between her commission pay ($150) and the required regular pay at the minimum wage rate ($350.00). Luba's employer owes her $200.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The calculation is more complicated where overtime hours are worked. Industry-specific and job-specific exemptions and special rules may apply to some salespeople who earn commission. Please see the Special Rule Tool for details.

Minimum Wage: Room and Board Provision

For the purposes of ensuring that the applicable minimum wage has been paid to an employee, an employer can take into account the provision of room or board (meals). Room and board will be deemed to have been paid as wages only if the employee has received the meals or occupied the room.

Example: The amounts that are designated “paid to the employee” for room and board are calculated as a value on top of their wages (not deducted). For example, if Sam gets paid $600 per week and receives a private room and board, which is valued at $85.25, then he is deemed to be making $685.25 per week for purposes of determining whether he has been paid at least the minimum wage.

Calculating whether minimum wage has been paid: $685.25 per week/37 hours = $18.52 per hour.

Therefore, Sam is considered to have been paid at least the general minimum wage ($14 per hour).

When an employer is providing room and/or board (i.e. meals), the following dollar equivalents are considered to be paid as wages when assessing the employer’s compliance with minimum wage.

Domestic workers

  • Private room – $31.70 a week
  • Non-private room – $0
  • Both room and board (i.e. meals):
    • $85.25 a week if the room is private
    • $53.55 a week if the room is not private

Harvesters of fruit, vegetables or tobacco

  • Serviced housing accommodation – $99.35 a week
  • Unserviced housing accommodation (e.g. housing accommodation where the light, fuel, heat, water, gas or electricity are not provided at the employer’s expense) – $73.30 a week
  • Room:
    • $31.70 a week if the room is private
    • $15.85 a week if the room is not private
  • Board (i.e. meals) - $2.55 a meal, but not more than $53.55 a week
  • Both room and board:
    • $85.25 a week if the room is private
    • $69.40 a week if the room is not private

All other employees

  • Room:
    • $31.70 a week if the room is private
    • $15.85 a week if the room is not private
  • Board (i.e. meals) – $2.55 a meal, but not more than $53.55 a week
  • Both room and board:
    • $85.25 a week if the room is private
    • $69.40 a week if the room is not private

Miscellaneous Standards to Consider

Travel Time and Training Time

Travel time, time spent on mandatory training (for existing employees) and, in certain uncommon circumstances, commuting time are considered to be hours of work for minimum wage purposes. Employers can establish different rates for different types of work as long as they are still complying with the minimum wage and overtime pay provisions.

Employees Sent Home after Working Less than Three Hours

When an employee who regularly works more than three hours a day is required to report to work but works less than three hours, they must be paid whichever of the following amounts is the highest:

  • Three hours at a minimum wage; or,
  • The employee's regular wage for the time actually worked.

For example, if an employee who is a liquor server is paid $13 per hour and works only two hours, they are entitled to three hours at minimum wage.

The liquor servers’ minimum wage is $12.20 per hour, and is calculated by multiplying $12.20 by three hours of work, which totals $36.60. She is entitled to three hours at minimum wage instead of two hours at her regular wage because $13 per hour x 2 hours of work equals only $26.


The rule does not apply to:

  1. Students of all ages.
  2. Employees whose regular shift is three hours or less.
  3. Situations where the cause of the employee not being able to work at least three hours was due to: fire, lightning, power failure, storms or similar cases beyond the employer’s control that resulted in a work stoppage.

When the Minimum Wage Changes

If the minimum wage rate changes during a pay period, the pay period will be treated as if it were two separate pay periods and the employee will be entitled to at least the minimum wage that applies in each of those periods.

Minimum Wage Checklist

Employers and employees, please verify that:

  • The type of work being performed is covered by the minimum wage standard under the ESA and its regulations. Work not covered by (exempt from) minimum wage requirements can be found in the Special Rule Tool.
  • When non-student employees are sent home after working less than three hours – and they usually work longer – they are paid the greater of: their regular rate for the time worked or three hours at minimum wage (except where there is a work stoppage due to fire, lightening, power failure, storms or similar circumstance that is beyond the employer’s control).
  • Total earnings in a pay period for employees paid completely or partly by commission, or who are paid on a piece work basis, equal at least the minimum wage for total hours worked.

Employers and employees, if the work being performed is covered by special rules, please verify:

  • Employees are being paid the correct minimum wage for that type of work.

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