Employment Standards

Workers in Canada are protected by both federal and provincial regulations. Federal regulations establish national employment standards and provincial regulations affect employees within their jurisdictions.  These regulations encompass aspects like minimum wage, health and safety guidelines, hours of work and holiday time.

Minimum Wages in Canada

With the exception of certain federally regulated businesses or industries Canadian minimum wage standards are provincially regulated.  In Ontario, the minimum wage for any employee has been set at $14.00 per hour as of January 1, 2018.  Information about other provincial minimum wage rates can be found on the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada website.

Hours of Work in Canada

With the exception of certain federally regulated businesses or industries, legislation governing hours of work is provincially regulated and varies to a significant extent across Canada. In Ontario, these regulations define the terms of most minimum-wage employment and are fairly representative of many other types of employment.  They include rules designed to ensure things like:

  • A standard work-day of 8 hours
  • A standard work-week of 40 hours and a maximum work-week of 48 hours
  • One eating period of ½ hour or two periods of 15 minutes each within every 5 consecutive hours of work
  • Overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times an employee’s regular wage for work in excess of 44 hours per week
  • Two weeks of vacation time after each year of work

Variations of these regulations are common and occur based on contractual agreements made between employers and employees at the commencement of employment. 

Statutory Holiday Pay in Canada

Statutory holidays are provincially-regulated days of special significance that have been established to commemorate or celebrate certain events, usually of a religious or historical nature.  Employees who meet qualifying requirements are entitled to a paid holiday or, if they are required or agree to work, to the payment of wages at a premium rate for work performed. In Ontario, nine days a year are set out as statutory holidays.  Learn more at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

Job Protection in Canada

Canadian employment standards protect employees against dismissal under special circumstances in which an employee is unable, due to illness, pregnancy or certain emergency situations, to attend work.  Employers are required to ensure that an employee covered under these standards may return to their job within a set period of time.  Ontario legislation provides for:

  • 17 weeks of pregnancy leave
  • 35 weeks of parental leave
  • 12 weeks of sick leave
  • 8 weeks of family medical leave to care for immediate family
  • 10 days of personal emergency leave in case of personal or family medical emergency

Workplace Safety in Canada

Employees in Canada are protected by both federal and provincial regulations that are designed to keep the workplace as safe as possible.  Employees have the right to disclosure, to refuse dangerous work and to make complaints with governing health and safety agencies.  Employees and employers are expected to adhere to all safety standards.  In Ontario, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is mandated to both compensate injured employees and to promote the prevention of workplace injuries.

Useful links:

For more information about employee rights and responsibilities: