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From tipping to breaks: What the law says about employee rights

All workers have certain rights under the law. But what do those laws say exactly about employee rights in Ontario? There are many things of which many people are probably unaware -- rules that govern everything from tips to breaks and everything in between. Speaking of tips, if an employer says that employees aren't allowed to accept tips, that's perfectly fine as long as the employer makes it clear to the employees it's not allowed. 

Although the Employment Standards Act (ESA) doesn't say which businesses can or can't accept tipping, it does regulate the tips employees do get. Employers aren't allowed to take money from employees' tips, take their tips entirely or make them give tips back. Contrary to what may be popular opinion, an employer doesn't have to give employees a paid lunch, but must give a minimum half hour break. Generally, employers aren't mandated to give employees breaks, other than to eat.

As for work hours, the ESA says workers cannot be made to work more than 48 hours in a week, although special written approval can be obtained from Ontario's Director of Employment Standards to exceed those hours if the employee has agreed with the employer in writing. Ontario's minimum wage has recently been raised to $14 an hour and will be raised to $15 an hour in 2019. Individuals working as independent contractors are not governed by a minimum wage; however they must be classified by an employment as such.

Employees who believe their employee rights have been violated by an employer can speak to an Ontario employment law attorney about their situations. A lawyer will guide his or her client in the compensation process and answer questions pertaining to the client's employee rights. Workers are entitled to be paid for their efforts, and employers who violate the ESA can be held accountable.


Source:, "What the law says about workers' rights", Sara Mojtehedzadeh, Jan. 5, 2018

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