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Your rights at work

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Does the ESA apply to all workers?

No. Not all jobs are covered by the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and, for some jobs, only parts of the ESA apply.

Some employers say that their workers are self-employed and the ESA does not apply to them. If this is your situation, it is a good idea to get legal advice. Even if you signed something that says you are an "independent contractor" or in business for yourself, the rights in the ESA might still apply to you.

Some industries are covered by federal laws. These industries include banks, airlines, some trucking companies, and broadcasting. Workers in these industries are covered by the Canada Labour Code. Like the ESA, the Canada Labour Code sets out minimum standards employers must follow. For more information, contact the federal government's Labour Program, Ontario Region at 1-800-641-4049.

Other examples where the ESA does not apply include:

  • students in "work experience programs" approved by a school board, college, or university,
  • people on social assistance doing community participation under Ontario Works, and
  • inmates in work programs and people ordered or sentenced by a court to work.

You do not need to be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or have a work permit to be covered by the ESA.

If you are not sure whether you are covered by the ESA, see Where can I find out more and get legal help?