As an employee, individuals are afforded many rights under both provincial and federal laws. It is the duty of the employer to uphold these rights and exercise responsibility towards their employees. As a worker, you have a right to be treated fairly at work, to work in a safe workplace, to be properly trained to deal with workplace hazards, and to join a trade union.

The most important first step to protecting your rights is to be informed about them.

Ontario Worker Rights

In Ontario, there are several acts to dictate how workers should be treated including:

Occupational Health and Safety Act:

Employment Standards Act which details the rights of employees to get paid at least minimum wage, to be paid for overtime and for public holidays, and to have a right to vacation time:

Labour Relations Act:

Pay Equity Act:

Canadian Human Rights Act

Further, the Canadian Human Rights Act dictates that discrimination in employment and services are prohibited and that Canadians are protected from discrimination when employed under federal jurisdiction.

Canadian Human Rights Act:


If you feel that your worker rights have been violated, a complaint should first be able to be filed through your employer or departments within your organization that deal with these complaints.

If the issue is about health and safety, within the workplace this can usually be discussed with the employer, a health and safety representative, and/or the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC). If the employer does not resolve the concern, then the Government of Ontario has several recourses. For an immediate safety concern, the Ontario government’s Safety Contact Centre can be reached at 1-877-202-0008. If the concern is not immediate, a form can be filed at the following site which can also be used for workplace harassment concerns:

On the other hand, if the problem is about a human rights violation, a worker can first contact the employer, Human Resources, and/or another appropriate department within their workplace. If the employer does not respond or does not resolve the issue, a worker can file a report with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario:


There are a number of alternative resources available to workers for information, understanding their legal rights, and dealing with infringements on these rights.

The workers’ action centre has information for knowing your rights in several languages, particularly for workers who are in precarious jobs:

Cleo Connect has online legal information regarding worker rights and employment law in Ontario:

The city of Toronto has resources for information on workplace violations, harassment and discrimination:

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has resources for individuals facing discrimination on the basis of mental health:

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Meghan Kates

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