What is the Ontario Labor Law?

When you arrive in Toronto to find work, you wonder what the differences are between your country and Canada. This is why I created this article in order to target as much as possible the general questions you could have when arriving here. Please note, each state in Canada has its own laws, so what I write here is only valid for Ontario. Do not hesitate to ask your questions in the comments, if you wish other subjects to be addressed.

The work contract

Before starting a job, make sure you have an employment contract, indeed, some employers will try to give your contract later but be careful. Also here, the promise of employment does not exist, if you receive a letter / email stating that you’re chosen for the position, as long as you do not sign the contract, you’ll not sure to start a job. But in reality (in catering for example) you can start the contract without paper first, I started my first job without a contract for 2 days per example.

And how much do I get paid ?

This is a question that comes up often, you’ll see that Canadians will often give you your salary in dollar an hour, knowing that you do not know how much it is per month or per year, we can feel lost. Most of the time, the more you earn, the more you’ll contribute. Remember, 4 taxes exist on your salary which take you about 15% to 25% of your salary (up to 50% for the biggest salary):

  • the federal tax deduction

  • provincial tax deduction

  • the CPP: Canadian Pension Plan ==> this is your retirement contribution

  • EI: Employment Insurance ==> you contribute for job seekers, maternity leave ... by contributing for a certain period, you too will have access to these aids

To calculate your net salary, I recommend this very nice tool which will allow you to know your net salary directly whatever the proposal (by hour / day / month ....) ==> the tool is here

Life at work

You’ll notice it while working, life at work has nothing to do with what you know in your country. Here we don't take lunch breaks like we would in France for example. So, it is not uncommon if your company haven’t a room for the lunch and to see people eating at their computers.

If you used to be an executive in France, know that here in Canada, we do not work "long hours" when we work in offices (then each case is specific). Thus, it is not uncommon to see people work schedules from 9h to 17h and sometimes to leave before.

Work hours

A typical Canadian employee works an average of 35 or 37.5 hours per week.

Daily limit : 8 hours

Weekly limits : 48 hours

Overtime is counted as soon as you exceed the 44th hour of work in an average week and is paid 1.5 times your gross salary.

Employers calculate your compensation by 2 or 4 weeks. To make it simple if over 2 consecutive weeks you work 53 hours the first week and 30 hours the second week, you’ll not accumulate any extra hours.

The three-hour rule If you work somewhere and for a reason of too low activity, your employer asks you to come home, he will be obliged to pay you for the day a minimum of 3 hours worked. However, this rule does not apply to:

· employees with normal occupation requiring less than three hours per day

· certain situations independent of the employer

Keep in mind that an employer cannot ask you to work more than 48 hours a week against your will. The overtime could be done in agreement between you and your boss. On the other hand nothing is indicated on the maximum number of hours of overtime that you must not exceed.

Meal break : They are deducted from your working hours because they are unpaid, they generally last 30 minutes and must be allocated to you so that you do not chain more than 5 hours of work.

Other break : In some companies you’ll be given a 15-minute coffee break per paid half-day. Note that the employer is not required to grant you this break.

To find out more click here

The minimum salary

In Ontario in 2020, the minimum wage is $ 14 an hour and $ 12.20 for waiters. Exceptions exist for students and certain trades, I invite you to go and see the summary table by clicking here.

New: the minimum wage should increase every year on October 1, 2020 by a certain percentage, among other things, a strong argument to request an raise from your employer.

Dismissal and resignation

Unlike other countries, employers here do not need a real reason to fire you. Indeed, a dismissal can be carried out without the employer needing to justify himself.

However, he must respect a notice period. The latter is generally two weeks in the first two years then one more per year worked for the employer up to 8 years. Simply put, the maximum notice your employer can give you is 8 weeks.

Your "trial period" is 3 months before being entitled to this notice, however it is mentioned that the employer must give reasonable notice below this date.

Immediate dismissal, as you see in American movies with leaving with a box and all your belongings is more common than with us in Europe!

Above 3 months of work, your employer will then have to pay you the weeks not respected of the notice (+ 4% of the total notice for paid holidays).

For your part, you’ll also be required to keep the same notice as your employer if you decide to resign from a job.

Regarding the aid to which you’re entitled when you’re dismissed from a job, I would make a next article on it because it requires more special attention. :)

Paid holidays / public holidays

Here, the law only provides for 2 weeks of paid vacation. Depending on the employers, some may offer you more to make you come to their company or add "loyalty" by adding you every 2 years, 1 week of paid vacation (until you reach 5). By law, below 5 years of work you’re required to obtain only these 2 weeks of paid vacation. Note that if you work in a temporary agency for example, you may be automatically paid for your paid vacation directly up to 4% of your gross salary. The days you ask will then be holidays without balances (days when you’re not paid).

Ontario Holidays (9 officials)

  • January 1 New Years Day;

  • 3rd Monday in February: Family Day;

  • The Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday;

  • The Monday before May 25 Victoria Day;

  • July 1: Canada Day;

  • 1st Monday in September: Labor Day;

  • 2nd Monday in October: Thanksgiving;

  • December 25 Christmas Day;

  • December 26: the day after Christmas (December 26).

Some employers grant their employees an optional holiday:

  • Easter Sunday

  • Easter Monday

  • 1st Monday in August: Simcoe day

  • November 11 Remembrance Day

  • An additional holiday chosen by the employer

These leaves are not statutory holidays. Check with your company, or the collective agreement to determine which additional leaves you’re entitled to.

Sick leave : In law, even if your contract does not provide it, you’re entitled to 3 unpaid sick leave per year (from January to December) protecting your job if you have worked at least 2 weeks. On the other hand, if you’re absent for half a day, your employer can count this as either a half day or a full day.

In general in companies, if you happen to be sick for more than 3 days in the year, they are not going to fire you, people know how to be understanding in the face of this kind of thing. Some employers even offer between 3 and 5 days of paid sick leave per year in your contract. If you’re affected by a more serious illness, or one that can be long-lasting, I encourage you to consult this page.

For the other leaves to which you’re entitled as soon as there is a death, violence suffered ... I invite you to go see this other page.

Maternity / parental leave

Ontario law provides for unpaid maternity leave for pregnant employees of a maximum duration of 17 weeks. Parental leave without pay is 61 weeks. People benefiting from these leaves can continue their participation in certain benefit plans and keep their seniority in their business. The employer has no right to penalize a person taking maternity or parental leave.

If you have just arrived in a new job, you’ll have the right to maternity leave if you’ve been there 13 weeks before the scheduled delivery date (by the doctor).

There is also employment insurance which is a means of gaining access to assistance during maternity leave. To be eligible you’ll need to:

  • Have insurable employment (normally included in the contribution with your salary) and have worked at least 600 hours

  • Have a weekly income that has decreased by more than 40% following the leave

  • Not being able to work because you’re pregnant or a parent caring for the child after birth

How much ?

Contribution: (whose contribution is $ 1.58 for every $ 100 you earn)

What you receive: When you establish the request the calculation will be made, for roughly the amount is 55% of the average earnings per week. There is still a limit that has been established since January 1, 2020: $ 573 per week maximum.

The two options:

1. Standard service: Both parents receive up to 40 weeks to share (at 55% of salary) ==> 35 weeks max / person

2. Extended service: Both parents receive up to 69 weeks to share (at 33% of salary) ==> 61 weeks max / person

To find out more, I recommend these 2 links:


As with maternity or parental leave, to have the right to unemployment, you must register for employment insurance. You’ll thus be able to touch unemployment which amounts to 55% of your weekly salary if you meet these conditions in Ontario:

  • You have worked at least 700 insurable hours

  • You have been fired from your job and not resigned

You’ll therefore have the right to receive your unemployment between 14 and 36 weeks, depending on your contribution time.

Note, in Canada, the employment insurance benefit takes into account the unemployment rate in your region to calculate you’re rights. You can find the summary table here.

In a region, the higher the unemployment rate, the more your rights are increased over time. However, be aware that Toronto has a low unemployment rate of less than 6%.


When you work in catering, you’re likely to receive tips. Since 2016, the employer is prohibited from keeping tips and even withholding some of them even if the employee has lost, broken or spilled things during his service. You should therefore not give your tip in exchange for a higher minimum wage, for example. The only deduction that can be made is that the tip is subject to tax.

Share the tips: you can find this in some restaurants, the owner decides that a percentage of the tips earned by the waiters is distributed to the different people in the establishment. For example in a restaurant of 3 people, if the pooling is 20% on 100 dollars of tips earned by the waiter 20 dollars will be shared equally with the 2 other people (10 dollars each). This can include, the dishwasher, the cook, the hostess ...

NB: Be careful, everything that is said in this article, should not be taken for the law, indeed, variations of this law may exist depending on your contract, the collective agreement, the sector in which you work.

A number to call: if you have specific questions regarding certain situations, a service in English / French is available to all and free of charge.

· Contact if you work in an environment that you consider dangerous: 1-877-202-0008

· Contact regarding problems with your pay and working hours: 1-800-531-5551

And as usual, don't hesitate to follow me on Instagram to support me! :)

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