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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
  • Overtime
  • Minimum wage
  • Vacation and holidays
  • Leaves
  • 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:

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: 

Local services and assistance

Contact local legal services or a settlement worker if you need advice or help.


For more information… 

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