5 Legal Rights for Ontario Employees

“Calling it your job don’t make it right, boss.” is one of the honest sentences ever spoken, whether it be on a movie screen or in the workplace. A lot of people, employees and employers, do not understand what employment rights and obligation, that they have in Ontario. This is a problem.

It is hard to exercise rights and obligations, as well as consider hiring a lawyer, when people do not understand them. Here are some of the legislation that affects Ontario employees and employers and they should be understood, when you consider hiring an employment lawyer.

1. Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act

The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act should be viewed, as an action plan to keep employees safe and healthy. It outlines rights and obligations for the employee and for the employer. For the workplace to stay safe, people need to know their rights and obligations. Appropriate communication must be used to educate people on their rights and obligations. Once communication has been given, they need to have the proper ability to enforce what has been communicated to them. Moreover, they need to have proper training and skills to enforce the action plan.

2. Employment Standards Act

The Employment Standards Act should be viewed, as the basic rules of employment. It states the following: hours, breaks, vacation pay, minimum wage, overtime pay, holidays, absences from work, and termination. These are the basics for any kind of job. This does not mean that employers cannot pay higher wages, provide benefits (medical, dental, sick or death), have pension plans available, have extended vacation times, and/or have company bonuses or vehicles. It is just that the employers cannot go lower than what is in this Act.

3. Pay Equity Act

The Pay Equity Act should be viewed, as an action plan on how to remove employment challenges for workers who have faced systematic barriers in the past – women, indigenous people, members of visible minorities and people with disabilities. The Act has employers paying employees equally for work that is of equal value. It is the value of the job versus the tasks of the job that is being assessed.

4. Labour Relations Act

The Labour Relations Act should be viewed, as the basic rules for organized labour. The Act states how employees can certify or decertify a union; once a workplace is unionized, the Act states the rules for collective bargaining, grievances, unfair labour practices, strikes and lock-outs. This does not mean that employees can have illegal strikes or that employers can have illegal lock outs. It is a guideline on how employees can organize and stay organized, as well as how employers can manage these organized employees.

5. Ontario Human Rights Code

The Ontario Human Rights Code should be viewed, as an agreement, that not only covers employment, but also covers contracts, goods, services, and facilities, housing and membership in employment areas. The Code states that every individual is to be treated equally regardless of disability, ancestry, race, creed, sex, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, record of offences, family status, citizenship, gender expression, and marital status. None of these should be used as reasons for any kind of harassment or discrimination. This equal treatment is applied to: job applications, training, transfers, promotions, recruitment, dismissals, apprenticeship terms, layoffs, pay rate, discipline, benefits, overtime, performance evaluations, hours, shifts and holidays.