Protecting Your Employee Rights: Understanding Workplace Standards

June 27, 2019

Knowledge is power, so being cognizant of your employee rights is a crucial measure to protect yourself against getting taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers. Understand your rights as an employee – learn more about the workplace standards employers are required to adhere to under Canadian federal and provincial regulations:

Protection Against Discrimination 

Under the Employment Equity Act, all employees in Canada have the right to not be denied employment or benefits due to discrimination against being in historically disadvantaged minorities, such as “women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities.” This legislature also “requires special measures and the accommodation of differences,” so if there are barriers to employment that are out of your control due to being part of a minority group, your employer must work with you to develop reasonable solutions to overcome them. 

Protection Against Sexual Harassment

While on the job, you have the right to work in conditions free of sexual harassment. According to the Canada Labour Code, this includes: “anything likely to cause offence or humiliation or that might, on reasonable grounds, be perceived as placing a condition of a sexual nature on employment or on any opportunity for training or promotion.” A toxic workplace that permits sexual harassment to occur without consequences or punishes victims for coming forward is violating employee rights.

Work Time

Unless you enter into an agreement electronically or in writing with your employer, you have the right to not be made to work more than the established daily shift limit (typically eight hours, but standard daily shifts may be longer in certain industries). Even if you do agree to work longer daily or weekly hours, you have the right to be paid overtime. If you are not in a federally regulated industry, work time limits are set at the provincial level, so verify your exact rights with the Ministry of Labor if you work in Ontario.

Sick Leave

You have the right as an employee to take up to three days of unpaid sick leave per calendar year, while still having your job protected under the ESA. If you only take part of the day off because of illness or injury, you still have the right to be paid for the hours you did work that day. Your employer cannot deny your right to take sick leave, regardless of how the illness or injury occurred or whether you were at fault.

Termination Notice and Pay

If you work in Ontario and are not a federal employee, if your employer ever makes the decision to terminate your employment, they have to do so under the provisions of the Employment Standards Act (ESA). You must be given appropriate notice, determined by your length of employment (see ESA termination notice chart) or if not, you must receive termination pay to make up for the lack of notice.

Never settle for working for an employer that doesn’t value your rights

If you’re interested in finding new accounting, finance, administrative or HR job opportunities, PTC Recruiting can help. For nearly 30 years, PTC’s team of experienced recruiters has been working with job seekers to match them with positions from top employers throughout GTA and southern Ontario. Search our available jobs now to get started.

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