Laws & Legislation

Are you curious about what laws and legislation apply to you as a young worker? 

The Ministry of Labour in Ontario, which is responsible for occupational safety, employment rights and responsibilities, and labour relations provides updated information for young workers regarding the basics as covered in The Employment Standards Act (2000).

What is the Employment Standards Act (2000)? 

The Employment Standards Act (ESA) 2000 provides information on the rights and responsibilities of employees (YOU) and employers in Ontario workplaces. This includes information on:

  • Payment of wages
  • Public holidays
  • Hours of work
  • Overtime pay
  • Vacation time 
  • Statutory holidays Payment of wages
  • Public holidays
  • Hours of work
  • Overtime pay
  • Vacation time 
  • Statutory holidays

Does the ESA apply to me as a young worker? 

YES! Young workers like yourself have the same rights as other employees in Ontario under the ESA. BUT, there are differences in terms of minimum wage that apply specifically to “students”. Read below to find out more!

Tell me more about…minimum wage!

Minimum wage is the lowest hourly wage that an employer can pay employees. This means that employers must pay most employees, including young workers, AT LEAST the minimum wage. 

What is minimum wage in Ontario?

There are different “types” of minimum wage in Ontario, including a student minimum wage and a general minimum wage. 

Do I qualify for the student minimum wage in Ontario? 

The student minimum wage rate applies to students under the age of 18. Unless you are employed in an industry or job category that is exempt from minimum wage entitlements, most students

  • who work no more than 28 hours a week when school is in session, OR
  • who work during a school holiday (e.g.  March break, Christmas break, summer holidays)

…are entitled to the student minimum wage. 

Students who work more than 28 hours a week when school is in session are entitled to the general minimum wage.

How do lunch and coffee breaks work? 

If you work longer than five hours in a row, you are entitled to receiving a 30-minute eating period. You can negotiate the specifics of this with your employer – the 30-minute eating period can be taken as two breaks within a five hour work period.

In terms of a “coffee break” – your employer does not have to give you any other break other than the eating period.

Am I paid for my meal break?

Meal breaks (30-minute eating period) are unpaid unless otherwise described in your contract with your employer. 

What about public holidays? Do I get paid? 

Most employees, including young workers (both part-time and full-time) are entitled to take the below 9 public holidays off with public holiday pay!

  • New Year's Day
  • Family Day
  • Good Friday
  • Victoria Day
  • Canada Day
  • Labour Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day
  • December 26 (Boxing Day)

There are some exceptions. If you work in a hotel, motel, tourist resort, restaurant, tavern, hospital, or continuous operation, you may be required to work on a public holiday! 

How do I know if I am being paid correctly? 

It’s a good idea to keep track of the hours you work on a calendar or in your phone. Your employer will also keep a detailed record of the hours you work, the wage they pay you and any deductions.

After each pay period, your employer should provide you with something called a “pay stub” or a “pay slip” that shows you all of the details of your pay period. 

For more detailed answers to these questions and more, visit the Ministry of Labour’s website, which has a number of answers to questions that young workers like yourself may have!