Tips | Employment Laws
The following provides some basic guidelines but is not intended to replace legal advice. If you are looking for specific legal advice, please consult a lawyer. The following information is based on Ontario Provincial laws. For employment laws specific to other provinces you will need to check out the information from the province that applies to your situation. Employers that are federally regulated (e.g. banks, post-office, federal government and crown corporations, airports, railways) are covered by Federal Labour Standards.
In Ontario, we are fortunate to have a number of laws that protect our rights. These include:
- Ontario Human Rights Code
- Employment Standards Act
- Occupational Health and Safety Act
- Workplace Safety and Insurance Act
These laws are designed to provide consistent protection for workers including safe workplaces, discrimination-free environments, fair pay, and support in case of injury.
1. The Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC)
The OHRC states: “Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability”. Learn more about your rights and the duty to accommodate.
If you are a student with a disability, you are not legally obligated to disclose information about your health or disability to a potential employer. Revealing sensitive information is your decision. Learn more about the pros and cons of disclosure. It is up to you to make a decision that is right for you but know your rights before you do so. You can also book an appointment to discuss your individual situation with an employment strategist or career counsellor.
For more information on your rights during the interview, please review this OHRC page on interviews and hiring decisions. Employers are obligated to provide a discrimination-free workplace. All employment-related decisions should be based on merit.
- The Employment Standards Act regulates how we are treated in workplaces in Ontario. The statute includes specifics about minimum wage, hours of work, overtime, vacation pay, public holidays, leaves of absence (pregnancy and parental leave, personal leave, medical leave), termination, and severance pay.
- Minimum Wage Rate (as of 2020) – the current general minimum wage is $14.21/hour. The student minimum wage (for those under 18) is currently $13.40/hour (as of October 2020)
- Vacation Pay: You are entitled to a minimum of 4% vacation pay (or time off in lieu of).
- Internships: According to the Ministry of Labour website, “generally, if you perform work for another person or a company or other organization and you are not in business for yourself, you would be considered to be an employee, and therefore entitled to ESA rights such as the minimum wage. There are some exceptions, but they are very limited, and the fact that you are called an intern is not relevant”. What does this mean for you? In most cases, unpaid internships outside of a co-op or practicum would be in contravention of Ontario Employment Standards. Read Your guide to the Employment Standards Act for more information or call the Employment Standards Information Centre at 416-326-7160.
According to the Ministry of Labour Website, the OHSA gives workers three important rights:
- The right to know about hazards in their work and get information, supervision and instruction to protect their health and safety on the job.
- The right to participate in identifying and solving workplace health and safety problems either through a health and safety representative or a worker member of a joint health and safety committee.
- The right to refuse work that they believe is dangerous to their health and safety or that of any other worker in the workplace.
If you have concerns or questions, do your research by consulting with the above website.
4. Workplace Safety and Insurance Act
According to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) website, "If you are ever injured or become ill because of your job, we're here to give you the care and support you're entitled to under Ontario's workplace safety and insurance system. That includes benefits, as well as other support, such as return to work assistance.” Please note that there are many deadlines associated with these benefits.
5. University of Toronto Career Centres Job Posting Guidelines
The mission of the Centres is to support students and recent graduates in their career planning, employment, and transition to further education. We value our collaborative relationships with employer partners who support us in these goals.
Legal & Policy Context
The Centres operate within a legislative and policy framework that safeguards the interests of the institution, students, and our employer partners. Our practice is governed by adherence to:
- Ontario Employment Standards Act and Ontario Human Rights Commission
- Canadian Association of Career Educators & Employers (CACEE) Guidelines for Ethical Recruitment
- Ontario’s Municipal Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FIPPA)
- All internship postings must comply with the Ontario Ministry of Labour guidelines.
Impact of COVID 19
While many of us are working from home during this time, the employment laws still apply. For tips on working at home, please review this article.
The Career Centre is always here to help and support you. If you have any questions or need to speak with an Employment Strategist or Career Counsellor, call 905.828.5451.
Information is subject to change. Please refer to the original sources for the most up to date information. Updated August 2021.