7 Things You Should Know About The Ontario Employment Standards Act

Dec 4, 2011

The Ontario Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) imposes numerous duties and responsibilities on employers. Here are seven such obligations:

1. Record keeping obligations

Do you know that an employer must provide an employee with a statement containing certain information every pay day? Or that an employer must record an employee’s name, address, start date, and the number of hours worked each day and each week?

2. Scheduling Overtime

Did you know an employer cannot generally schedule an employee to work more than eight (8) hours a day or forty- eight (48) in a week without the employee’s agreement? Or that an employee can revoke such an agreement by providing the employer with two weeks written notice? There are exceptions to this general rule.

3. Scheduling Vacations

Did you know an employer must generally schedule employee vacations for a two-week period or a one week period unless the employee requests a shorter vacation in writing and the employer agrees? Did you know that a “use it or lose it” vacation policy does not generally comply with the ESA?

4. Scheduling Unpaid Leaves of Absence

An employer is required provide an employee with a number of unpaid leaves of absence under the ESA including:

(i)                pregnancy leave (up to 17 weeks for employees who have been employed for at least 13 weeks);

(ii)              parental leave; (up to 37 weeks for employees who have been employed for at least 13 weeks);

(iii)            organ donor leave (up to 13 weeks for employees who have been employed for at least 13 weeks);

(iv)            family medical leave (up to 8 weeks in a 26 week period)

(v)              personal emergency leave of up to 10 days each year (only employees with 50 or more employees);

At the conclusion of any of these leaves, did you know that an employer is generally required to reinstate the employee to his or her position, if it still exists, or to a comparable position, if it does not?

5. Public Holiday Pay

Did you know an employer is generally required to pay every employee public holiday pay? It doesn’t usually matter if the person works part-time, how long the person has been employed, or whether the person worked the day before or after the public holiday. Did you know that the August Civic Holiday and Remembrance Day are NOT public holidays under the ESA?

6. The obligation to provide notice of termination

Generally, an employee is entitled to up to eight (8) weeks notice of termination under the ESA. Did you know however that there are nine types of employees who are NOT entitled to receive any notice of termination under the ESA? Did you know that employees are entitled to receive longer notice periods if the employer terminates 50 or more employees within a relatively short period of time? Did you know most employers decide to provide employees with termination pay instead of notice of termination? Did you know that common law “reasonable notice” period is almost always more that the minimum notice requirements under the ESA?

7. The obligation to provide severance pay in addition to termination pay

Did you know that if your organization’s Ontario payroll is more than $ 2.5M and an employee has worked more than 5 years then he or she is generally entitled to receive one week severance pay for each year of service to a maximum of 26 weeks in addition to any notice of termination the employee is owed under the ESA? There are exceptions to this rule.

To download a copy of our Workplace Audit: 20 Areas to Consider which includes a number of questions about the Employment Standards Act, please visit our Home Page.

If you would like to discuss your organization’s rights duties and obligations under Ontario’s Employment Standard’s Act, please contact us at [email protected] or call us at 1-800-640-1728 at your convenience.

The material and information in this blog and this website are for general information only. They should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. The authors make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of any information referred to in this blog or its links. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog. Readers should obtain appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. These materials do not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and any of the authors or the MacLeod Law Firm.

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