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Homeworkers are employees who do paid work out of their own homes for an employer (for example, online research, preparing food for resale, sewing, telephone soliciting, manufacturing, word processing).
Independent contractors are not homeworkers under the Employment Standards Act ( ESA ).
The difference between homeworkers and domestic workers
Homeworkers are not the same as domestic workers.
Homeworkers do paid work out of their own homes for an employer.
Domestic workers work in a private home directly for the person who owns or rents the home. They do things such as housekeeping and cooking, or provide care, supervision or personal assistance to children or people who are elderly, ill or disabled.
For example, employees who prepare food at home for resale by their employer are homeworkers, but employees who prepare food in a private residence for the people living there to eat are domestic workers.
Rights under the ESA
Homeworkers are eligible for:
- minimum wage
- regular payment of wages (wages are paid on a recurring pay period on a recurring pay day, and written wage statements are provided for each pay)
- wages are paid on a recurring pay period on a recurring pay day, and
- written wage statements are provided for each pay
- written job details
- hours of work protections (for example, maximum hours of work, and daily and weekly/bi-weekly rest periods)
- overtime pay
- vacation with pay
- public holidays
- pregnancy and parental leave
- family responsibility leave
- bereavement leave
- family caregiver leave
- family medical leave
- critical illness leave
- organ donor leave
- reservist leave
- crime-related child disappearance leave
- child death leave
- domestic or sexual violence leave
- notice of termination
- notice of termination of assignment (applies to assignment employees of a temporary help agency)
- severance pay
- equal pay for equal work
Employers are required to provide their employees with a copy of the ministry's Employment Standards Poster within 30 days of the date anyone becomes an employee.
If an employee requests a copy of the poster in a language other than English and the ministry has published a version in that language, the employer must provide the translated version in addition to the English copy.
Learn more about special rules or exemptions for homeworkers .
Minimum wage rate
Minimum wage is the lowest hourly wage an employer can pay employees. The general minimum wage rate is $16.55 per hour (as of October 1, 2023).
There is a special minimum wage rate for homeworkers that is higher than the general minimum wage rate. A homeworker is entitled to a minimum wage rate of $18.20 per hour (as of October 1, 2023).
Full-time and part-time homeworkers are entitled to this rate. Students of any age who are employed as homeworkers must also be paid the homeworker's minimum wage.
Calculating minimum wage for homeworkers who are being paid piece-work rate
The amount that a homeworker is paid must be at least equal to minimum wage. Homeworkers who are paid on a piece-work rate (a way of calculating pay that is based on the amount of work an employee completes, and not on the hours worked) can calculate whether they are being paid at least the minimum wage in the following way:
- Take the total amount earned over the pay period and divide it by the number of hours worked in the same period. This is their average hourly rate.
- Compare that average hourly rate to the homeworkers’ minimum wage rate in effect over that same pay period. (If overtime hours were worked, the calculation is more complicated.)
A homeworker received $350 as piece-work pay for the pay period October 4 to October 10, 2023 as payment for 25 hours of work in that pay period. The homeworker received the equivalent of $14 an hour in that pay period, but the homeworkers' minimum wage rate in effect from October 1, 2023 was $18.20.
Based on the homeworkers' minimum wage, the employee should have earned $455.
Result: The employer must therefore pay an additional $105 to the employee ($455 minus $350).
Written job details an employer must give a homeworker
Employers must advise homeworkers in writing of:
- the type of work they are being employed to do
- the amount to be paid for an hour of work in a regular work week if the homeworker is being paid by the number of hours worked
- the amount to be paid for each article or thing manufactured in a regular work week
- the number of articles or things to be completed by a certain date or time if the employer requires a certain number to be completed by a certain date or time
- an explanation of how pay will be determined when the homeworker is being paid on some other basis
Employers must keep detailed records of hours worked, wages and deductions. They must give all employees a written wage statement with each pay that shows the full details of the pay period.
The written wage statement must set out the:
- pay period for which the wages are being paid
- wage rate, if there is one
- gross amount of wages and unless the employee is given the information in some other manner, such as in an employment contract how the gross wages were calculated
- amount and purpose of each deduction from the wages
- net amount of wages
Information and records employers must keep
Employers who employ homeworkers are required to keep a register containing the name, address and wage rate(s) of the homeworker. This must be kept for three years after the homeworker has stopped working for the employer.
In addition, all employers in Ontario, including anyone who employs homeworkers, must keep written records about each person they hire.
Exception for hours of work records
If an employee receives a fixed salary for each pay period, and the salary does not change unless the employee works overtime, the employer is only required to record the:
- employee's hours in excess of those hours in the employee's regular work week, and
- number of hours in excess of eight per day—or in excess of the hours in the employee's regular work day, if that's more than eight hours.
Homeworkers Complete Guide to Labour Rights in Ontario
Knowing your employment law rights as an employee is critical to being able to demand good and healthy working conditions and timely and fair remuneration for your work. On the other hand, as an employer, you are required to comply with the law. It can get a bit complicated if you work remotely from home. Hence, here’s everything homeworkers should know about labour rights in Ontario.
An Article from Our American Contributor .
1. What Is the Employment Standards Act ?
The most important employment law you need to know of as a resident of Ontario is the Employment Standards Act (ESA). This is the law that protects workers’ rights and outlines how employees should be treated by their employers as well as what they can demand in terms of their rights being upheld properly.
That being said, not all types of workers are protected by ESA . If you work in a federally-regulated industry (e.g. banking or transportation), then this law won’t apply to you.
Otherwise, ESA is the statute you should look into if you want specific details about your rights as an employee (or if you are an employer who wants to comply with the law).
Click here to take a look at a helpful guide prepared by the Ministry of Labour.
2. The Basics: Working Hours, Minimum Wage, Overtime
Employment law regarding working hours.
According to ESA , the maximum hours an employee could be required to work is 8 hours per day or 48 hours per week. However, this limit can be exceeded if there is a written or electronic agreement between the employer and the employee. The length of a regular workday should be clearly established in the agreement between the employer and the employee. The fact that a worker is working remotely from home doesn't change that requirement.
Even if the employee signs an agreement with the employer for a long workday, the employer still has to pay the employee if they are working overtime.
If you are an employer and have a workload that your team of employees can’t handle, you can consider outsourcing. For instance, you can contact the writing service Trust My Paper to hire professional writers who can help you with content creation, documentation, and so on.
What counts as work hours should also be established in the agreement. For instance, breaks for eating might not be considered as working time even though the employee is staying at the office i.e. the workplace. Travel time such as commuting doesn’t count as working hours either (but there are exceptions). Training time is considered as working time if it is required by the employer or by law for the employee to perform their job (e.g. training during the onboarding period).
Of course, as a homeworker, you should discuss what counts as working hours with your employer. You may not need to commute to the office and back, but you do need breaks during the day to eat. You might even want to discuss time for sleeping during the day if your employer allows it.
Employment Law Regarding Minimum Wage
Most employees must be paid at least the minimum wage no matter what type of job they have – full-time, part-time, casual, paid hourly, or per commission, etc. The minimum wage changes every year and will be increased on October 1, 2023. Right now, the minimum wage for homeworkers is $17.05 per hour.
If the employee is paid by commission, then the minimum wage should be calculated based on the number of hours worked to complete that specific commission. For example, if it took you 10 hours to complete a particular commission, then you will use that number of hours to calculate the minimum amount you should be paid using the minimum wage rate (10 * 17.05 = $170.50).
Employment Law Regarding Overtime
In most cases, overtime starts when you have been working over 44 hours per week. The hours an employee worked over 44 hours in a specific week will have to be paid by the employer as overtime. The rate for overtime work is 1.5 times the regular rate.
Keep in mind that overtime is generally not calculated on a daily basis but rather on a weekly basis or over a long period of time under an averaging agreement. If you want to be paid for overtime work on a daily basis, you need to discuss this with your employer and sign an agreement regarding it.
Click here to contact HTW Law - Employment Lawyer for assistance and legal consultation.
3. How About Holidays, Vacation, and Leave?
Holidays - employment law.
Ontario has nine public holidays , including New Year’s Day, Family Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. Most employees can take these days off and get paid public holiday pay.
If an employee wants to work during a public holiday, an agreement should be signed electronically or in writing. As an employer, you can hire a professional writer from the writing agency Best Essays Education to help you craft a simple agreement. The employee will either have to be paid public holiday pay and premium pay or paid regular wages while receiving another substitute holiday for which they will receive public holiday pay.
However, you want more than a simple agreement, you will need to consult with an employment lawyer to draft a full employment agreement .
Vacation - Employment Law
Depending on how many years of employment you have, you as an employee will be entitled to a different number of vacation days :
Less than 5 years of employment – 2 weeks of vacation time after each 12-month vacation entitlement year
5 or more years of employment – 3 weeks of vacation time after each 12-month vacation entitlement year
Your vacation pay also depends on the number of years of employment you have:
Less than 5 years of employment – vacation pay is at least 4% of the gross wages (excluding vacation pay) earned in the 12-month vacation entitlement year
5 or more years of employment – vacation pay is at least 6% of the gross wages (excluding vacation pay) earned in the 12-month vacation entitlement year
DO NOT confuse vacation time with vacation pay, they are two different things.
Click here to take a look at a helpful guide prepared by the Ministry of Labour regarding vacation time and vacation pay.
Leaves of absence - Employment Law
There are different types of leave you can take that have different standards for length, pay, and so on:
Pregnancy and Parental Leave – Pregnancy leave can last up to 17 weeks and is unpaid. New parents have the right to take parental leave which is also unpaid. Mothers can take up to 61 weeks (if pregnancy leave was taken) or up to 63 weeks (if pregnancy leave wasn’t taken).
Personal Emergency Leave – This kind of leave includes sick days. Personal emergency leave usually amounts to 10 days every calendar year.
Family-Related Leave – This includes family caregiver leave (unpaid, up to 8 weeks per calendar year per family member), critical illness leave (unpaid, up to 37 weeks if a minor child is critically ill or up to 17 weeks if an adult is), and crime-related child death or disappearance leave (unpaid, up to 104 weeks).
4. Wrapping Up
All in all, homeworkers in Ontario can be certain that their rights are protected, but if the employer doesn’t comply with ESA , then you must demand that your rights be respected. This guide will help you better understand ESA , but reading the statute yourself will give you a better picture of how the law protects your rights.
The Employment Standards Act may be found by clicking here .
Unfortunately, not all businesses comply with the ESA and other employment laws that apply to Ontario homeworkers and remote workers, otherwise there wouldn't be any wrongful dismissal , constructive dismissal and workplace harassment and workplace discrimination claims.
You don't have to fight the battle alone. Speaking with an employment lawyer who is familiar with the laws and regulations governing remote workers and homeworkers will go a long way. If you are in doubt, it's essential that you reach out for help as soon as possible right away to help you maximize your severance pay and separation package.
Kristen Bray is a professional writer and blogger. She mainly covers topics such as blogging, digital marketing, and self-education. In her free time, she practices yoga and also travels.
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Here's what you need to know about Ontario's minimum wage increase on Oct. 1
The lowest-paid workers in Ottawa and eastern Ontario will receive a $1.05 an hour pay bump this weekend.
Ontario's minimum wage will increase from $15.50 to $16.55 an hour starting on Oct. 1. The student minimum wage will increase $1 an hour to $15.60.
The Ontario government says the 6.8 per cent increase in the minimum wage means up to $2,200 more in workers' pockets every year.
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"Starting Sunday, October 1, Ontario’s minimum wage will increase from $15.50 to $16.55 per hour, helping more than 900,000 hard-working men and women across our province earn more take-home pay for themselves and their families," David Piccini, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, said in a statement.
"Our government is continuing to deliver steady and predictable annual increases, helping families offset the rising cost of living while also providing certainty to businesses by announcing this increase six months in advance. Minimum wage jobs should be for the start of a worker’s career, not the end."
The minimum wage has increased from $14.25 per hour to $16.55 an hour since 2020.
Here is a look at the new minimum wage rates as of Oct. 1.
General minimum wage
The general minimum wage increases to $16.55 per hour.
Liquor servers receive the same minimum wage of $16.55 an hour, after the Ontario government eliminated the special rate for liquor servers in 2022.
Student minimum wage
The student minimum wage increases from $14.60 an hour to $15.60 an hour, starting Oct. 1.
The student minimum wage rate applies to students under the age of 18 who work 28 hours a week or less when school is in session or work during a school break or summer holidays.
Work from home
The minimum wage for people working from home in Ontario increases from $17.05 an hour to $18.20 an hour.
The Ontario government says the homeworkers minimum wage is for employees who do paid work in their own homes.
"For example, they may sew clothes for a clothing manufacturer, answer telephone calls for a call centre, or write software for a high-tech company."
Minimum wage rates by province
- Ontario - $16.55 an hour (as of Oct. 1)
- Quebec - $15.25 an hour
- British Columbia - $16.75 an hour
- Alberta - $15 an hour
- Saskatchewan - $14 an hour (As of Oct. 1)
- Manitoba - $15.30 an hour (as of Oct. 1)
- New Brunswick - $14.75 an hour
- Nova Scotia - $15 an hour (as of Oct. 1)
- Prince Edward Island - $15 an hour (as of Oct. 1)
- Newfoundland and Labrador - $15 an hour (as of Oct. 1)
- Yukon - $16.77 an hour
- Northwest Territories - $16.05 an hour
- Nunavut - $16 an hour
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Excerpted from Homeworkers’ Association Pamphlet
Homeworkers’ Association (HWA) is part of U.N.I.T.E. Ontario Council (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees), and is housed under CCNCTO (Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter). HWA was formed in May 1992 as an organization for immigrant women who sew garments in their home. HWA is governed by an elected executive committee of homeworkers who are elected on an annual basis and serve for a one-year term.
Our Objectives: — To inform homeworkers about their workplace rights and assist them in exercising these rights — To provide support to homeworkers and help them overcome extreme isolation through organizing social and recreational activities — To be a vehicle where homeworkers can come together to develop their own capacity to respond to issues, share strategies and find collective solutions — To provide an opportunity for sharing skills and experiences between homeworkers and other factory workers
Our Services: We provide the following services and activities: — Free referral and information on work related issues such as employment standards, health and safety, etc. — Information on employment insurance, welfare, and other social services — Recreation activities such as summer picnics and holiday parties, field trips, socials, etc. — Bi-monthly newsletter in Chinese — Leadership training, workshops and seminars — Classes such as sewing, pattern-making, ESL, etc. — Research and information on the garment industry — Community development, human rights and advocacy
Homeworkers’ Association Documents
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Under the Employment Standards Act, homeworkers are employees who do work out of their own homes for an employer. Examples of homework are sewing, stuffing envelopes, online research, answering calls for a call centre, and telemarketing.
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