We provide advice and representation for claims under Ontario's
Employment Standards Act ("ESA").

Employment Standards Act sets out the basic rights that employees enjoy in Ontario. The ESA applies to most workers in Ontario. This Ministry of Labour website provides basic information about who is covered by the ESA.

The ESA includes rules about the following:
  • Payment of Wages
  • Minimum Wage
  • Hours of Work
  • Overtime
  • Vacation
  • Public Holidays
  • Pregnancy and Parental Leave
  • Personal Emergency Leave
  • Family Medical Leave
  • Organ Donor Leave
  • Reservist Leave
  • Termination of Employment
  • Severance Pay

The Ministry of Labour publishes a useful
guide to the ESA.

The Employment Standards Branch of the Ministry of Labour is responsible for enforcing the ESA. Complaints to the Employment Standards Branch are assigned to an Employment Standards Officer, who is empowered to investigate and seek a resolution to the dispute. Due to high volumes of complaints, it is increasingly rare for Employment Standards Officers to hold a meeting between a worker and employer. Instead, it is common for the Officer to make a decision on the basis of the documents that the worker and employer submit.

Generally, a claim for any wages earned by a worker must be filed with the Employment Standards Branch within six months of the date that the wages became due. The time limitation is one year when the claim is for vacation pay. There is also an exception to the time limit where an Employment Standards Officer finds that the same section of the ESA was violated by an employer more than once. If this is the case, the Officer can award wages from all violations of that section of the ESA within one year of the claim being filed.

When a worker makes a complaint under the ESA that is not a claim for wages, the time limit for making the claim is two years. This type of claim would include complaints against employers for not allowing statutory leaves, meal breaks or wage statements, among other things. Under this rule, an employee could also claim reinstatement or compensation within two years if an employer penalized or threatened to penalize him/her for enforcing a ESA right.

The time limits noted above can be extended in certain exceptional circumstances, for example, when an employer misleads an employee to believe that he/she does not have a claim.

Please contact the
Ministry of Labour or our office for additional information and advice.