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Unpaid Training? That’s not a thing in Ontario workplaces

Training in the workplace is a pivotal element in the professional development of employees and the overall growth of an organization. Recognizing its importance, Ontario has taken a legislative approach to ensure that employees are fairly compensated for training periods. This not only underscores the value of employee time but also sets a standard for equitable workplace practices.

Know your Rights: Training must be paid
Unpaid training is not a thing for new employees.

The cornerstone of Ontario’s stance on paid training is embedded in the Employment Standards Act (ESA). The ESA mandates that any training required by employers for their employees to perform their jobs must be compensated. In the Ontario Government’s Your Guide to the Employment Standards Act it clearly says

“Time spent by an employee in training that is required by the employer or by law is counted as work time. For example, where the training is required because the employee is a new employee or where it is required as a condition of continued employment in a position, the training time is considered to be work time.”

 Your guide to the Employment Standards Act, “Hours of Work” , Government of Ontario.

This principle acknowledges the professional time and effort invested by employees in their development and the direct benefits accrued by employers.

Importance of Paid Training

The rationale behind legislating paid training is multifaceted. Primarily, it promotes fairness by recognizing that if an employer requires training, the time spent should be considered as work time and, thus, paid. Training is work, unpaid training is the same as not paying someone for work. Moreover, investing in employee development through compensated training signals to employees that their growth and progression are valued. This mutual benefit fosters a positive work environment and enhances productivity, as employees feel more engaged and valued.

Training Consideration

For employers, the requirement to pay for training encourages the implementation of thoughtful and necessary training programs. It necessitates a careful consideration of the training’s relevance and effectiveness, ensuring that the investment benefits both the employee’s development and the organization’s objectives. For employees, it assures them that their time is valued and that their professional development is a shared priority. This alignment of interests promotes a more dynamic and committed workforce.

Examples and Clarifications

Under the ESA, paid training encompasses various scenarios, including orientation sessions, skill upgrades, and mandatory professional development. For example, if an employer requires an employee to complete a specific certification to perform their job duties, the time spent in acquiring this certification must be compensated. However, voluntary training taken by the employee for personal advancement, not required by the employer, may not fall under the same provisions.

Ensuring Compliance

To comply with the ESA’s training pay requirements, employers should adopt clear record-keeping practices and communicate training requirements and compensation policies transparently. This includes documenting the hours spent on required training and ensuring that employees are aware of their rights and obligations regarding training compensation.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

Businesses that fail to comply with the ESA’s paid training requirements face potential legal and financial repercussions. These can include penalties, orders for compensation to affected employees, and damage to the organization’s reputation. Employees who believe their rights have been violated have recourse through filing a claim with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, which can investigate and enforce compliance.

And this is where we can help! If live or work in Peel, as an employee or former employee of a business that did not pay you for training or orientation we can help you file a claim, no cost to you.


Did you face unpaid training? Claims can be filed here: Filing an Employment Standards Claim