What is employment law?

Employment law is the area of law that governs non-unionized employer and employee relationships. Employment law covers a wide range of issues, including but not limited to:

  • Absenteeism, Disability Leaves and Leave Management
  • Discipline and Termination
  • Discrimination, Harassment & Sexual Harassment
  • Employment Agreement Review
  • Human Resources Policies
  • Human Rights and Duty to Accommodate
  • Non-Competition and Non-Solicitation
  • Occupational Health & Safety
  • Severance Package Review
  • Social Media in the Workplace
  • Workplace Investigations
  • Wrongful and Constructive Dismissal

How does employment law defend employees?

Employees are vulnerable in an employer-employee relationship. One reason for this is if they have legitimate complaints, the boss has the upper hand because the job here always needs someone to fill it. This lack of bargaining power could mean that even low wages or dangerous work conditions are too challenging to negotiate.

Employment law protects employees through legislation and common law.


A bundle of statues have been created which set out an employee’s minimum entitlements to different things. One example of this is the Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets out an extensive list of what employees are entitled to at minimum wage through the timepiece standard set by the FLSA.

The Ontario Human Rights Code (HRC) prohibits discrimination and harassment at the workplace such as discrimination or mistreatment for reasons such as race or religion. The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) sets out protections to promote workplace safety by preventing injuries and occupational diseases, for example. The Basic Pay Equity Act (PEA) details equal pay in specific jobs and lastly, but certainly not least, the Employment Standards Act covers the basics of employment such as getting paid and disciplined when a job ends.

The Common Law

Courts are where the common law is created and upheld. Where legislation acts as a “floor” by representing your minimum rights, the common law is the “ceiling”.

That being said, some employment contracts may contain a clause specifying what termination pay is allotted for the employee. For example, if the employment contract states that the employer will provide termination pay in accordance with legislation, such as legislation like Employment Standards Act (ESA), this means that the employee will get the minimum amount of money allowed by law. The common law is considered a “ceiling” because it generally provides for much more termination pay than ESA legislation (commonly known as “the floor”).

Unfortunately, the termination provisions that some companies write into their contracts are poorly written. Rather than giving you parachute payments, they only offer the same salary, even if you worked for them for more than twenty years. Speak to an employment lawyer if it’s time for your company to let you go. They could help form a case about how your contract termination is unreasonably lenient.

You should know that this article is only to be used as general information and does not constitute legal advice. We encourage employees to contact us directly to better understand work-related issues and seek legal advice for questions about your vaccination status.