Tips from an employment lawyer
As a worker in Ontario, you want to be sure that your employer is paying you properly. Nobody wants to work for free! If you are ever unsure, you can look to the relevant legislation or check the Ministry of Labour’s website. If you cannot navigate your rights and options on your own, the best course of action is to find an employment lawyer who can help protect your rights at work.
Having some basic information about Ontario’s pay rules can assist you in noticing discrepancies before a dispute. Here is a helpful checklist that you can refer to periodically when reviewing your wages or when starting a new job.
Are you covered by the Employment Standards Act?
The Employment Standards Act (ESA) governs most employee/employer relationships in Ontario. However there are some important exceptions such as federally regulated industries (i.e.: banking), farm workers, students doing co-op placements, etc. If you fall into one of the exceptions, different wage rules likely apply to you.
Check your employment contract to determine what your regular wage is. Ensure that it is not lower than the mandated minimum wage. The general minimum wage in Ontario is $14 per hour. The minimum wage for homeworkers is $15.40 an hour. The minimum for persons receiving tips in a place where liquor is served is $12.20 an hour. The minimum wage for students under the age of 18 working less than 28 hours a week during the school year is $13.15 an hour.
Generally if you work more than 44 hours in a week you must be paid an overtime rate of 1.5%. Meaning if your regular wage was $20 per hour you would be paid $30 per hour for each hour over 44 in a week. There are some instances where you can agree to have overtime averaged over a period of a week or take time off in lieu, but this type of agreement is generally subject to approval by the Ministry of Labour.
If you are expected to work on a public holiday you must be paid at a rate of 1.5%.
If you are required to remain on the premises for a break you must be paid for that time, if you are allowed to leave the premises, you employer can deduct break time from your pay.
Training that is required for a job must be paid. There are exceptions where you are taking optional training to assist with a promotion. General training at the start of employment however must be paid no less than minimum wage.
If you earn a tip or gratuity your employer is prohibited from taking it from you, unless there is a tip sharing arrangement among all the employees.
It is unlawful for an employer to pay employees at a different rate on the basis of sex, pregnancy status, race, sexuality, etc. if they are performing the same work. There are exceptions if the employer is using a seniority system.
Before or on the regular pay day your employer must give you a pay stub which lists the rate of pay, hours worked, pay period, and the amount and reason for any deductions. It is always a good practise to check and verify your pay stub.
If you are unsure about any issues with your pay, or any if you have been denied any payments to which you are entitled, consider speaking with legal counsel and speak to an experienced employment lawyer near you at Mehdi Au LLP.
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