Whether you just graduated and are starting your first job, or you have been working for many years, it is important to understand how you are protected.
According to labour law, your employer can’t force you to take a lie detector test.
Whether you just graduated and are starting your first job or you have been working for many years, it is important to understand how you are protected by employment standards legislation.
The wide-ranging job protections afforded by these statutes cover minimum wages, overtime pay, maximum hours of work, permissible leaves of absence and statutory termination and severance pay.
If you are employed in a non-union job in Ontario, your employment will generally be governed by the province’s Employment Standards Act. However, if you work in sectors that fall under federal jurisdiction, such as airlines, banks and the federal civil service, you will have similar but not identical protection under the Canada Labour Code.
One notable example of different federal and Ontario labour standards is the amount of mandatory vacation and vacation pay required by each jurisdiction.
Under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, you are entitled to a paid vacation of at least two weeks after one year of employment. This minimum allocation does not increase with years of service. In contrast, federally-regulated organizations must give employees at least three weeks of vacation after six years of employment.
Here are five other provisions of the Ontario Employment Standards Act you may not be aware of:
Exempt employment: There are specific kinds of employment not protected by the legislation. These include school-related programs for high school, college and university students and the terms of employment of politicians, judges and religious leaders.
There are other exemptions for white-collar workers like lawyers, architects and accountants who are exempt from virtually all protection in regards to compensation, hours of work, public holidays and paid vacation. However, they are eligible for termination and severance pay.
The Ontario Ministry of Labour website has a tool that can help you find out who is and is not covered by various parts of the legislation.
Leaves of absence: Most people are familiar with maternity and parental leave and their right to return to the same or a similar position at the end of the leave.
But there are many other forms of job-protected leave like family medical leave, organ donor leave and reservist leave. Three new forms of family caregiver leave will come into effect at the end of October.
Companies with over 50 employees also must permit staff to take up to 10 unpaid days a year of emergency leave for personal illness or the death, illness, injury or medical emergency of a close family member.
If you make required contributions, benefit plans continue during these leaves and you continue to accrue paid vacation. That means if you take a one year combined maternity and parental leave, you will accumulate the same amount of vacation time (to be taken later or combined with your leave) as if you had been at work.
Temporary help agencies: Where you agree in writing with a temporary help agency that you want them to find you work, the agency is your employer. The employment relationship does not end until it is terminated by the agency or you quit.
The temporary agency cannot prevent you from accepting direct employment with their client or charge you a fee if you accept a permanent assignment. The agency client also cannot be charged a fee for hiring you full time after you have worked for the organization on a temporary basis for six months or more.
Lie detectors: Employers are prohibited from using lie detectors to screen employees. No one other than the police in specified circumstances can require you to take a lie detector test. If you have taken a lie detector test for any reason, this information cannot be disclosed and employers or prospective employer cannot be sent the test results.
Reprisal: An employer cannot intimidate, dismiss or otherwise penalize you if you ask about your rights under the Employment Standards Act or attempt to exercise a right. Similarly, an employer cannot apply any form of sanction if ordered by a court or a garnishment order to pay an amount you owe to a third party.
If you think your employer has not complied with the law, you can file a claim with the Ministry of Labour within certain time limits For answers to questions about the ESA including its termination and severance entitlements, telephone the Employment Standards Information Centre at 416-326-7160 or toll-free at 1-800-531-5551.