With the rise of the “gig economy,” many employers hire more part-time employees and freelancers instead of full-time employees. And on the other side of the coin, many full-time employees are taking on part-time or freelance work to supplement their income.

Part-time and freelance arrangements can be a great option for employers and employees, offering flexibility and work-life balance. However, it’s especially important for employees to understand their rights as part-time employees in Ontario. 

This blog post will cover some key considerations for part-time workers under the Employment Standards Act, 2000, SO 2000, c 41, and beyond. 

What is Part-Time Employment? 

Traditionally, part-time employment is an arrangement where the employee works 30 hours or less per week. 

Part-time employment is not defined in the Employment Standards Act. The number of hours part-time employees work can vary significantly depending on the employment arrangement, ranging from casual work to near full-time hours. 

Do I Have to Disclose Part-Time Employment to My Employer? 

Full-time employees are not legally required to inform their employer if they take on part-time work elsewhere. 

However, to maintain trust with your employer(s), being forthright is critical. Letting your employer know about your intention to accept a second job in advance (and letting your second employer know about your existing employment) is recommended to ensure everyone is on the same page and avoid unpleasant surprises down the line. 

For more information on dual employment, read our recent blog post.  

Part-Time Employee Rights, the Employment Standards Act, and More

On its face, part-time employees enjoy many rights as full-time employees in Ontario. However, subtle differences – determined mainly by the number of hours worked and the length of employment – can impact part-time employees’ rights. 

Below, we’ll cover some frequently asked questions about the rights of part-time employees in Ontario. 

How Much Do Part-Time Jobs Pay? 

Part-time employees must be paid a minimum of $15.50 per hour (as of the date this blog post was published), following the minimum wage guidelines that apply to both part-time and full-time employees. 

Keep in mind that there are exceptions to the minimum wage guidelines. For example, if you’re a student under 18, you must be paid a minimum of $14.60 per hour; if you’re a home worker, you must be paid a minimum of $17.05 per hour. 

Can Part-Time Employees Get Health Insurance? 

The Employment Standards Act does not require employers to provide health insurance to full-time employees – and part-time employees are no different. Whether you can obtain health insurance depends on whether your employer offers these benefits. 

Can Part-Time Employees Take Vacation and Sick Days? 

Like full-time employees, part-time employees are entitled to vacation and sick days under the Employment Standards Act

Specifically, part-time employees are entitled to at least three full days of unpaid sick leave each calendar year. Remember that unpaid sick leave is not prorated, meaning that if, for example, you began working for your employer in June, you’ll still be entitled to take three full days of unpaid sick leave for the remainder of the calendar year. 

Part-time employees are also entitled to at least two weeks’ vacation time per year. However, part-time vacation pay can differ from that of a full-time employee. Vacation pay is calculated at four percent of the gross wages an employee has earned in a 12-month vacation entitlement year or “stub period”, meaning that while you are entitled to take a certain amount of vacation time, you may not receive the full compensation you would normally earn while you are on holiday. 

Can Part-Time Employees Get Unemployment? 

Part-time employees are typically entitled to unemployment pay, assuming they have worked the required number of insurable employment hours during the past 52 weeks. 

You must have worked at least 420 insurable hours to qualify for employment insurance (or approximately 8 hours per week), though the required number of hours can vary based on your location. Review the Government of Canada’s resource to Look up EI Economic Region by Postal Code to determine the number of hours required to qualify for EI benefits. 

Can Part-Time Employees Get Termination Pay? 

Part-time employees are generally entitled to termination pay under the Employment Standards Act if they have worked for their employer for at least three months and are terminated without cause. 

Severance is a lump sum payment equal to the wages for a regular work week that an employee would otherwise be entitled to depending on their tenure with their employer. While this calculation is typically straightforward with full-time employees, it can become complicated when dealing with part-time employees whose hours vary. 

So, how is severance calculated for part-time employees? Your employer will calculate an average weekly rate based on the average hours worked per week and your length of employment. You will also be entitled to a minimum of 4% of your vacation pay on termination. 

For more information on the calculation of termination pay, visit the Ontario Government’s Termination Pay Calculator

Conclusions on Part-Time Employment Rights

Part-time employees enjoy many rights as full-time employees under the Employment Standards Act and other regulations. However, the calculation of particular benefits can vary because part-time employees log fewer hours than full-time employees (and, in some cases, have more variable work schedules). 

Understanding your rights as a part-time employee is critical, but reviewing the Employment Standards Act may provide you with a partial picture. While the Employment Standards Act outlines minimum rights for employees, your employment contract will typically provide a greater picture of your entitlement to benefits and rights established by your employer. 

The Employment Standards Act and employment contract will help you understand your rights. If you have questions or concerns about your employment situation or require assistance with a proposed employment contract, consult an experienced employment lawyer for further guidance. 

Contact an Ottawa Employment Lawyer at Tierney Stauffer LLP

Whether you’re an employee or an employer, the experienced lawyers at Tierney Stauffer LLP can advise on various employment concerns, including contracts, terminations, and much more. To discuss your legal matter with a member of our employment team, contact Tierney Stauffer LLP in Ottawa, Eastern Ontario, and North Bay at 1-888-799-8057 or online to schedule a consultation. 


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