Legal Distinctions and Rights:
In Ontario, Canada, part-time and full-time workers are entitled to the same minimum standards and rights under employment law, with no legal distinction between the two in terms of employment law rights.
Employment Standards and Employee Entitlements:
Both part-time and full-time employees in Ontario are subject to the rights outlined in the Employment Standards Act. This includes a minimum wage requirement, entitlement to vacation and sick days, and eligibility for unemployment pay under certain conditions. Specifically, part-time employees are entitled to at least three full days of unpaid sick leave each calendar year, and this entitlement is not prorated based on start date or hours worked (Employment Standards Act, 2000). Additionally, 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 (Employment Standards Act, 2000).
Company Policies and Practical Terms:
While legally there is no distinction, in practical terms, companies often have their own policies defining full-time and part-time work. Full-time employees typically work 37.5 to 40 hours per week, while part-time employees work fewer hours, often less than 30 hours per week. These definitions are based on individual company policies and not on a legal standard. Employers in Ontario have the flexibility to define part-time and full-time hours in their company policies, as long as they adhere to the minimum standards set by law.
Wages and Benefits
Employers in Ontario can legally offer different compensation and benefits to part-time employees compared to full-time employees (Employment Standards Act, 2000). This differentiation is not considered discriminatory under human rights legislation. Employers have the discretion to pay part-time workers less and offer them fewer or no benefits compared to full-time employees, provided the reasoning is not discriminatory. A recent Ontario court ruling affirmed that an employer does not discriminate by refusing to provide certain benefits to a part-time employee that a full-time employee normally receives, even when part-time status is due to disability (see https://www.littler.com/publication-press/publication/ontario-canada-not-discrimination-provide-part-time-benefits-employee).
Canada Labour Code and Provincial Standards:
While the Canada Labour Code does not specifically define full-time and part-time employment, the accepted the accepted guideline is that full-time employment means more than 30 hours a week, and part-time is less than 30 hours a week. Most employers use an eight-hour day and a 40-hour work week to identify a full-time position. The Canada Labour Code requires companies to pay overtime for employees working more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week, unless in a salaried or exempt position. However, each province and territory in Canada, including Ontario, may have its own labour standards without specific criteria for part-time hours. The content of this article is written for general information purposes only and does not constitute specific legal advice. This article should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed lawyer. Please contact us at 416-600-9469 if you’d like to speak to an Emerge Law lawyer.
Employment Standards Act, 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 41. Retrieved from
Thank you to Yasmine Haik for her contributions to this article.