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When I apply for a job, what can an employer ask me?

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When I apply for a job, what can an employer ask me?
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Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC)
Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC)
Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO)
Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC)
Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC)

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When I apply for a job, what can an employer ask me?
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Reviewed: 
April 2, 2018
Answer

The law says that employers can ask questions about whether you're qualified and able to do the job.

For example, if you need a driver's licence for a delivery job, an employer can ask if you have one. And an employer can ask if you've had other jobs that will help you do the job you're applying for.

What employers should not ask

Employers are not allowed to discriminate for reasons that go against your human rights. This means that, in most cases, employers are not allowed to ask questions like:

  • Do you have children or plan to have children?
  • Are you married?
  • How old are you?
  • Where were you born?
  • What is your ethnic background?
  • Do you have a disability?

If an employer asks you a question they should not ask, you don't have to answer. But if you don't answer, you might not get the job.

If you don't get the job, you might be able to make a human rights claim based on discrimination. See Step 2.

Asking about experience in Canada

An employer is not supposed to ask if you have "Canadian experience", unless they can show that you need it to do the job.

For most jobs, it's difficult for an employer to show that work experience in Canada is necessary.

And an employer cannot refuse to hire you only because you don't have experience working in Canada. If this happens, you might be able to make a human rights claim. See Step 2. 

But an employer can ask you if you're legally allowed to work in Canada.

Asking about criminal records

There are laws about what employers can ask about criminal records.

An employer can ask if you have been convicted of a crime that you have not been given a record suspension for. A record suspension used to be called a pardon.

If you get a record suspension for a crime that you've been convicted of, in most cases an employer can't ask about that crime and you can honestly say you don't have a criminal record.

An employer might ask you to get a police record check. This includes not only your criminal record but also information about contacts with the police that did not lead to a criminal conviction.

And if you apply for a job that involves working with children, seniors, or others who may be vulnerable, the employer will likely want a "vulnerable sector check".

There's more information about all types of police checks in Can an employer ask me if I have a police record?

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