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  • Writer's pictureDavid K Law

Key Links

You don't need to call a lawyer to find the basic information you need.

But you may need to call a lawyer to make sure you use it properly.

Do some homework. Determine what your problem may be, think about your real interests and options. Work out the questions you want to ask. And keep in mind - you're the expert in your business, not someone else's business.

Employment Standards in Ontario

“Every Canadian jurisdiction - each Province and the federal sphere - establishes basic minimum rules which apply to most employment relationships. Ignore them at your peril.”

Ontario's Employment Standards Act ("ESA") governs most employment relationships in the Province. The Ministry of Labour provides useful information on the rules and how they apply.

Most employers will set their own standards for the working relationship. Those rules can never provide less to an individual employee than the ESA does.

The Human Rights Code of Ontario

Human rights in the workplace - sometimes referred to as "equalities" law in the UK or "equal opportunity" law in the USA - prohibit employers from making hiring and other decisions based on personal characteristics (called "protected grounds"), unless the personal characteristics, even when accommodated, prevent the person from fulfilling the legitimate purposes of the job.

Ontario's Human Rights Code reflects the norms which apply throughout the Canadian jurisdictions. The Human Rights Commission offers its opinions on how that Code must be observed - useful to know, even if they're not always realistic or possible.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act

“If you want to be a great employer, you help people work safely. That's kind of basic.”

The system is simple: an employer is expected to obey, apply and enforce the law in its own workplaces. Each employee is expected to cooperate with that and observe the rules. But the law is complex: there are thousands of specific rules applicable to different types of workplace, and distinct situations people find themselves in.

A failure to abide by legal expectations of due diligence can mean a quasi-criminal prosecution, penalties and increasingly, jail time. Plus, you make it onto the Internet, involuntarily.

Every employer needs to know the law - the Occupational Health and Safety Act - be aware of the regulations, adopt policies, make sure those policies are followed, train people to work safely and take effective action to eliminate risks - whether those risks are physical hazards or just bad habits. And it's helpful to know what the regulator thinks about all this, too.

There's a lot more

We can't put all the basic information on one page. But we regularly create new pages with specific information and resources you need to help manage.

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