Issued: April 29, 2016

Some employees are at greater risk than others of not receiving their employment standards entitlements. They may also lack the ability and/or resources to understand their rights under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA).

From September 1 to December 31, 2015, Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development employment standards officers conducted a blitz focusing on interns at workplaces across the province with a focus on the Greater Toronto Area. The goal of the blitz was to educate employers and promote compliance with the ESA in sectors that often employ young workers, who have an increased exposure to precarious working conditions that fall outside the traditional employment relationship.


Workplaces visited during the internships blitz included the information technology sector and other sectors known to have internship programs.

Employment standards officers checked if employers had internship positions and whether individuals in these positions were employees or if an exemption applied, and whether employers were complying with core ESA standards, such as:

  • Public Holidays
  • Vacation Pay
  • Minimum Wage
  • Record Keeping
  • Hours of Work

Officers delivered educational packages to every workplace inspected during the blitz. These packages included:

  • The mandatory employment standards poster entitled Employment Standards in Ontario – What You Need to Know.
  • An information sheet entitled Are Unpaid Internships Legal in Ontario?
  • A tip sheet featuring links to key online tools and resources
  • An information sheet for employers with information on how and why to comply with the ESA
  • A tip sheet with information related to young workers in the workplace
  • A contact card with the telephone numbers for both the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development employment standards and health and safety call centres


Of 123 inspections completed:

  • 27 employers had no internship programs
  • 19 employers had no interns at the time of the inspection or during the test audit period
  • 77 employers had interns at the time of the inspection or at some point during the test audit period.
  • And of the 77 employers that had interns:
    • 41 were found to have programs that exempted the interns from the ESA (e.g. specified co-op students, certain trainees)
    • 18 had paid interns and were found to be in compliance with the ESA
    • 18 had interns and were found to be in contravention of the ESA

Of the 18 employers that had interns and were found to be in contravention:

  • 59 compliance tools were issued.footnote 1
  • $140,630 was assessed.footnote 2
  • Compliance rate was 99%.footnote 3
  • Most common monetary violations:
    • Vacation Pay / Vacation Time
    • Public Holidays / Public Holiday Pay
    • Minimum Wage
  • Most common non-monetary violations:
    • Wage Statements
    • Record Keeping

Compliance enforcement summary

An employment standards officer can issue a non-monetary Compliance Order if the officer finds an employer has contravened the ESA. The officer can order an employer or other person to stop contravening a provision and to take certain steps to comply.

In total, officers issued:

  • 45 Compliance Orders during the internships blitz.

When monetary contraventions are found and voluntary compliance is not achieved, an officer issues an Order to Pay Wages.

In total, officers issued:

  • 8 Orders to Pay Wages during the internships blitz.

Officers also issued an Offence Notice (“ticket”) under Part I of the Provincial Offences Act to some employers during the blitz. The tickets included a fine of $295 plus a victim fine surcharge.

In total, officers issued:

  • 6 tickets during the internships blitz.