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Minimum wage

The minimum wage is set under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). This section will explain the basics of minimum wage in Ontario, including different minimum wages for different jobs.


Table of Contents
  1. What is minimum wage?
  2. Who gets minimum wage?
  3. Does everyone get the same minimum wage per hour?
  4. What are the minimum wages for different jobs?
  5. How does the minimum wage apply to employees who earn commission?
  6. What amounts are allowed for room and board?
  7. Are deductions allowed?
  8. What happens if I go into work but I'm sent home after working less than three hours?
  9. What if I think my employer is not following the ESA?
  10. Can I see the ESA?

What is minimum wage? Top

Minimum wage is the lowest rate an employer can pay an employee.

Who gets minimum wage? Top

Most employees are entitled to at least the minimum wage, whether they are full-time, part-time or casual employees, or are paid an hourly rate, commission, piece rate, flat rate or salary.

There are exceptions. Please refer to Is my job covered? for details about industry-specific and job-specific exemptions, and special rules regarding minimum wage.

Does everyone get the same minimum wage per hour? Top

No. There is a general minimum wage that applies to most employees. But there are other minimum wages that apply to:

  • students under 18 years of age who work during school breaks, including summer holidays, or who work 28 hours a week or less when school is in session
  • liquor servers - employees who regularly serve liquor directly to customers or guests in licensed premises
  • homeworkers - workers 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.
  • hunting and fishing guides.

What are the minimum wages for different jobs? Top

General Minimum Wage - This rate applies to most employees.

Student Minimum Wage - This rate applies to students under 18 yrs of age if they work 28 hours a week or less when school is in session, or if they are employed during a school break or summer holidays.

Liquor Servers Minimum Wage - This rate applies to employees who serve liquor directly to customers or guests in licensed premises as a regular part of their work. Licensed premises are businesses for which a license or permit has been issued under the Liquor Licence Act.

Hunting and Fishing Guides Minimum Wage - This rate is based on a block of time, rather than an hourly basis. They get a minimum amount for working less than five consecutive hours in a day, and a different amount for working five hours or more in a day - whether or not the hours are consecutive.

Homeworkers Minimum Wage - Homeworkers are 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. Note that students of any age (including students under the age of 18 years) who are employed as homeworkers must be paid the homeworker's minimum wage.

The minimum wage rates in each of the above categories and scheduled annual increases are set out below:

Minimum Wage RateFebruary 1, 2006 February 1, 2007March 31, 2008 March 31, 2009March 31, 2010
General Minimum Wage$7.75 per hour$8.00 per hour $8.75 per hour$9.50 per hour$10.25 per hour
Student Minimum Wage$7.25 per hour $7.50 per hour $8.20 per hour$8.90 per hour$9.60 per hour
Liquor Servers Minimum Wage$6.75 per hour $6.95 per hour $7.60 per hour$8.25 per hour$8.90 per hour
Hunting and Fishing Guides Minimum Wage$38.75: rate for working less than five consecutive hours in a day; $40.00$43.75$47.50$51.25
  $77.50: rate for working five or more hours in a day whether or not the hours are consecutive $80.00 $87.50 $95.00 $102.50
Homeworkers Wage (110 per cent of the general minimum wage) $8.53 per hour $8.80 per hour$9.63 per hour$10.45 per hour $11.28 per hour

How does the minimum wage apply to employees who earn commission? Top

Some employees earn commissions based on a percentage of their sales. But even if your pay is based completely or partly on commission, it still must amount to at least the minimum wage based on the total number of hours worked in any given pay period.

To ensure you are receiving the minimum wage, take the amount you earned in a pay period and divide that total by the number of hours you worked in the pay period. Here's an example:

Luba has a weekly pay period. She earned $150 in commission, working 25 hours during her first pay period in March 2007: $150 ÷ 25 = $6

The minimum wage in March of 2007 was $8.00 an hour, meaning Luba should have been paid an amount at least equal to $8.00 multiplied by 25, or $200.00.

Luba is owed the difference between her commission pay ($150) and what her employer would have paid for the same number of hours at the minimum wage ($200.00): $200.00 — $150 = $50.00

Therefore, Luba's employer owes her $50.00.

What amounts are allowed for room and board? Top

If the employer provides room and or board (meals), a certain amount will be considered (or "deemed") to have been paid as wages for the purpose of determining whether minimum wage has been paid, as set out below. Room and board (meals) are not considered to have been paid as wages unless you occupied the room and received the meals.

Room (weekly)

  • private $31.70
  • non-private $15.85
  • non-private (domestic workers only) $0.00
Meals
  • each meal $2.55
  • weekly maximum $53.55
Room and meals (weekly)
  • with private room $85.25
  • with non-private $69.40
  • non-private (domestic workers only) $53.55
Fruit, vegetable and tobacco harvest workers (only) weekly housing
  • serviced housing $99.35
  • unserviced housing $73.30

If an employee is paid more than the minimum wage, the employer can charge the employee more than these amounts. For this to happen, an employer must have a written authorization from the employee.

Are deductions allowed? Top

An employer can make certain deductions from employee wages. They are:

  • statutory deductions (like income tax and employment insurance premiums)
  • deductions for fees payable under the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System Act, 2006
  • deductions where there is a court order
  • certain deductions made with the employee's written authorization.

Please see Pay for more details.

What happens if I go into work but I'm sent home after working less than three hours? Top

If you regularly work more than three hours a day and you are required to report to work, but work less than three hours, you must be paid whichever of the following amounts is the highest:

  • three hours at the minimum wage
  • the employee's regular wage for the time worked.

For example, in March 2007, an employee who earned $10.00 an hour and worked only two hours would be entitled to three hours at the then current minimum wage ($8.00 x 3 = $24.00) instead of two hours at his or her regular wage (10.00 x 2 = $20.00). This is called the "three-hour rule."

You should note, however, that this rule doesn't apply to:

  • students (including students 18 years of age and over)
  • employees whose regular shift is three hours or less.
  • situations where work stops because of certain types of causes beyond the employer's control, such as a fire or power failure.
What if I think my employer is not following the ESA? Top

What if I think my employer is not following the ESA?

Can I see the ESA? Top

Employment Standards Act, 2000

Resources Top

Government:
Ontario Ministry of Labour
Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act: Minimum Wage

Ontario Ministry of Labour
Employment Standards




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