Most employment in Ontario is governed by the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). While employers are required by law to provide some health and safety training, your own health and safety at work is in your hands. The system of workplace inspection is very limited. As such, the OHSA leaves it up to the employee to make health and safety decisions and empowers them to do so with these three rights:
- The "right to participate" to be part of the process of identifying and resolving health and safety concerns.
- The "right to know" about any hazards to which they may be exposed. The requirements of the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) are an important example.
- The "right to refuse work" that they believe is dangerous.
The Act prohibits reprisals being taken against workers who exercise these rights.
The ESA and OHSA require you, the worker, to both be informed of your rights and advocate on your own behalf. The following resource can be helpful in learning more about your rights and responsibilities at work:
The Workers’ Action Centre provides a publication outlining your rights as a worker with information on what you should do if your rights are compromised.
Not sure about your rights? Not sure what to do if you have a problem with receiving pay, with the safety of your workplace, or you’ve been unfairly fired? A Working Centre employment counsellor can research the issue with you and provide advice and information throughout the process.