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What laws apply to me as a worker?

What laws apply to me as a worker?
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Reviewed: 
February 23, 2018
Answer

Ontario's Employment Standards Act (ESA) has minimum standards that employers must follow. For example, there are rules about:

  • hours of work
  • minimum wage
  • vacation pay, holiday pay, and time off from work

But not all jobs are covered by the ESA. And, for some jobs, only parts of the ESA apply.

You don't need to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, or have a work permit, to be covered by the ESA.

Federal laws

Some industries are covered by federal laws. These are laws made by the Government of Canada and they apply throughout the country.

These industries include banks, airlines, some trucking businesses, and broadcasting.

Workers in these industries are covered by the Canada Labour Code. Like the ESA, the Canada Labour Code sets out minimum standards employers must follow.

Discrimination and harassment

The laws about human rights say that employers must not discriminate against you or allow other workers to discriminate against you.

Discrimination happens when someone refuses to hire you, treats you unfairly, or fires you for a reason that goes against your human rights.

Examples include being discriminated against because of:

  • race or ethnic background
  • religion
  • age
  • disability
  • sex
  • sexual orientation
  • being pregnant or having children

The Ontario Human Rights Code applies to workers who are covered by the Employment Standards Act.

The Canadian Human Rights Act applies to workers who are covered by the Canada Labour Code.

If your employer says you're self-employed

Some employers say that their workers are self-employed and the Employment Standards Act (ESA) does not apply to them. If this is your situation, it's a good idea to get legal advice.

Even if you signed something that says you’re an "independent contractor" or in business for yourself, the rights in the ESA might still apply to you. For example, you might have the right to overtime pay

Health and safety concerns

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) gives workers the right to:

  • know about health and safety hazards in the workplace
  • refuse to do work that’s not safe, which is often referred to as "unsafe work"

The OHSA doesn't apply to:

  • people who are covered by the Canada Labour Code
  • domestic workers who work in their employer's home

Workplace injuries

If you have an injury or disease that is related to your job, you should apply for workers' compensation. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) decides if you're covered or not.

WSIB pays workers' compensation benefits for injuries or diseases that are related to your work.

You should report any injuries to your employer as soon as possible.

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