What are the Employment Laws in Toronto?

Most employees in Ontario are governed by the Employment Standards Act (ESA), the provincial labour law. However, employees who work for large employers, such as banks, are subject to the CLC.

Toronto is a hub for diverse industries and a vibrant employment landscape. The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) is Toronto's primary legislation governing employment standards. This comprehensive law sets out minimum wage standards, work hours, overtime, vacations, leaves of absence, and more. The ESA also ensures employees are treated fairly and compensated appropriately for their labour. This article delves into the essential employment laws in Toronto, providing insights into the rights and obligations of employers and employees.


What is the Employment Common Law in Ontario?


Employment common law in Ontario is a body of judge-made law that establishes the rights and obligations of employers and employees without an express employment contract or legislation. It supplements the Employment Standards Act (ESA), which provides minimum standards for wages, work hours, vacations, and other employment-related matters.


One of Ontario's most significant aspects of employment common law is the concept of common law notice. This refers to the amount of notice or pay in lieu of notice that an employer must provide to an employee who is being terminated without cause. The amount of common law notice is determined by many factors, including the employee's length of service, age, position, and the availability of comparable employment opportunities.


Generally, the longer an employee has been with the company, the more common law notice they will be entitled to. For example, an employee with five years of service may be entitled to four months' notice, while an employee with 20 years of service may be entitled to 12 months' notice.


Reasonable Notice Period


The specific amount of reasonable common law notice will vary depending on the circumstances of each case. However, the courts have developed many factors that are typically considered when determining a reasonable notice period. These factors include:


  • The employee's length of service
  • The employee's age
  • The employee's position
  • The availability of comparable employment opportunities
  • The employee's character and conduct
  • The employer's reason for termination


In some cases, an employer may be able to avoid providing common law notice by proving that the employee has breached their employment contract or has committed misconduct. However, the burden of proof is on the employer to establish this.


Wrongful Dismissal


If an employer terminates an employee without providing reasonable notice, the employee may have a claim for wrongful dismissal. Wrongful dismissal is a common law tort that arises when an employer breaches the implied term of the employment contract that the employee will be given reasonable notice of termination.


If an employee is successful in a wrongful dismissal claim, they may be awarded damages, including lost wages, benefits, and emotional distress. Sometimes, the court may also order the employer to reinstate the employee in their former position.


Importance of Common Law Notice


A common law notice is an important protection for employees in Ontario. It ensures that employees have a reasonable opportunity to find new employment before termination. It also helps to prevent employers from arbitrarily terminating employees without just cause.


If you are an employee in Ontario and have been terminated without cause, you should consult an employment lawyer to discuss your rights and options.


What Laws in Toronto Protect Employees’ Rights?


Several laws in Ontario protect employee rights, ensuring fair treatment and compensation in the workplace. The major ones include:


  1. Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). The ESA serves as the cornerstone of employment law in Ontario, establishing minimum standards for various aspects of employment. It covers wages, work hours, overtime, vacations, public holidays, leaves of absence, termination of employment, and more. The ESA ensures employees receive fair compensation and adequate time off for rest and personal needs.
  2. Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The OHSA safeguards the health and safety of workers in Ontario. It mandates that employers provide a safe and healthy work environment, implement appropriate safety measures, and provide training and supervision to protect employees from workplace hazards.
  3. Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (WSIA). The WSIA establishes a comprehensive workers' compensation system in Ontario. It provides financial compensation and support to workers who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses.
  4. Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA). The LRA governs unionization and collective bargaining in Ontario. It outlines the rights of employees to form and join unions, engage in collective bargaining, and take strike action.
  5. Pay Equity Act. The Pay Equity Act promotes equal pay for equal work between men and women in Ontario. It requires employers to identify and eliminate gender-based wage gaps in their workplaces.
  6. Human Rights Code. The Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination based on various protected grounds, including race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family status, and record of offences. It applies to all aspects of employment, including hiring, termination, promotion, and compensation.


The Canada Labour Code


The Canada Labour Code (CLC) is a federal law that regulates labour relations in federally regulated industries and establishes minimum labour standards for employees in those industries. The CLC applies to employers and employees in the banking, telecommunications, transportation, and broadcasting industries.


The purpose of the CLC is to:


  • Promote fair and equitable labour relations between employers and employees
  • Protect the rights of employees
  • Ensure that employees have safe and healthy working conditions
  • Promote efficient and effective dispute-resolution mechanisms


The CLC applies to employees who work in federally regulated industries. These industries include:


  • Banking
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation
  • Broadcasting
  • Air transportation
  • Navigation
  • Interprovincial and international trade
  • Crown corporations


Most employees in Ontario are governed by the Employment Standards Act (ESA), the provincial labour law. However, employees who work for large employers, such as banks, are subject to the CLC.


If an employer breaches the terms of your employment contract or violates the ESA or other applicable employment laws, you have the right to seek recourse. You may want to consult with an employment lawyer. They can advise you on your legal options and represent you in court if necessary.

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