Rights and Responsibilities
As an employee or worker, you have basic workplace rights and responsibilities. The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) lists those rights and responsibilities, as well as basic workplace standards.
Workplace standards cover:
- Work hours
- Minimum wage
- Vacation and holidays
- Job termination.
The ESA does not cover federal employees or businesses regulated by the Government of Canada.
If you think your employer is not following the ESA, contact the Ministry of Labour. Employment Standards Officers will check your claim.
For more information about employee and employer rights and responsibilities visit the Ministry of Labour Employment Standards
The Human Rights Code
We all have the right to a fair and safe workplace, where we treat one another with respect. Joking and talking with coworkers is a welcomed part of our workday. But, actions, jokes, or comments that upset, intimidate, or degrade others, are offensive and probably harassment. Discriminating and harassing are against the law.
Employers and employees must create a safe workplace where there is no discrimination or harassment. Most employers have a code of conduct that clearly states rules and guidelines for the workplace. The Ontario Human Rights Code also lists workplace rights and responsibilities in Ontario.
If someone at work is harassing you or discriminating against you, talk to your employer. You can also make a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
To find out more about the Ontario Human Rights Code and the Ontario Human Rights Commission visit:
- Ontario Human Rights Commission
- Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO)
- Human Rights Legal Support Centre
Health & Safety in the Workplace
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) protects workers’ health and well-being by listing procedures for dealing with workplace health and safety hazards. The OHSA is also the law. Your employer must provide a safe workplace. As a worker you must also prevent occupational injuries and illness, and report injuries and unsafe situations to your employer.
If you think that you or your coworkers face unsafe situations, and your employer is not making changes to improve workplace safety, you can make a claim to the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB). There is no cost to making a claim and an employer cannot punish you for it.
The WSIB also offers support and insurance for workers injured on the job.
For more information on healthy and safe workplaces visit:
Workplace benefits, health plans and insurance
Employers do not have to offer employee benefit plans. Many employers do offer them - most often for full-time employees. Part-time, seasonal, temporary, casual, contract, or self-employed workers can buy insurance, and medical and dental plans through private insurance companies. Read and compare insurance policies and health plans before buying one.
For more information on workplace health plans and insurance visit:
- Ontario Health Insurance Plan
- Why would I need private health insurance?
- What is the Interim Federal Health (IFH) program?
Local services and assistance
For more information…
- Employment standards
- Guide to Working in Canada
- Ontario Workplace Gateway
- What is Canadian Etiquette at Work?
- About the Employment Standards Act (ESA) are vidoes from the Ministry of Labour vidoes on the Employment Standards Act. Some of the videos are in French, as well as Cantonese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, and Urdu.
- Ontario Ministry of Labour information in different languages