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 (i.e., maximum hours of work, and daily and weekly/bi-weekly rest periods)
- overtime pay
- vacation with pay
- public holidays
- pregnancy and parental leave
- sick 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 $15.00 per hour (as of January 1, 2022).
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 $16.50 per hour (as of January 1, 2022).
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 homeworkers' 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 January 4 to January 10, 2022 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 January 1, 2022 was $16.50.
Based on the homeworkers' minimum wage, the employee should have earned $412.50.
Result: The employer must therefore pay an additional $62.50 to the employee ($412.50 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
- where the homeworker is being paid based on the amount of work they complete
- 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.
Employee records can be retained either by employers or by someone else on their behalf but must be available upon request.
The employee's name, address and starting date must be retained for three years after the employee ceases to be employed by that employer. The number of hours the employee worked in each day and each week must be retained for three years after the day or week in question.
Each employee's written record must contain:
- the employee's name, address and starting date of employment
- the date of birth if the employee is a student under 18 years of age
- the times and hours worked by the employee each day and week
- information contained in the employee's wage statements
- all documents relating to the following leaves: pregnancy, parental, sick, family responsibility, bereavement, family caregiver, family medical, critical illness, organ donor, reservist, or crime-related child disappearance, child death, domestic or sexual violence
- the vacation pay paid to the employee during the vacation entitlement year (or stub period, if any) and how that vacation pay was calculated
- The employer must keep these records and must also keep records of the vacation pay earned by the employee during the vacation entitlement year and how the amount was calculated. These records must be kept for five years.
If the employee has two or more regular rates of pay, and the employee performed work for the employer in excess of the overtime threshold, the written record must also contain:
- the dates and times the employee worked, and
- their rate of pay must be contained in the written record.
These records must be kept for three years.
If a work day is substituted for a public holiday, the written record must also contain:
- a written statement containing the public holiday which is being substituted,
- the date of the day that is substituted for the holiday, and
- the date on which the statement is provided to the employee.
The employer must retain a record of the information contained on the statement for three years.
Note: An employee is entitled to information about his or her vacation time and pay entitlement once with respect to each completed vacation entitlement year or stub period, on written request to the employer. For more information please refer to the vacation chapter.
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.