Area of Law: Employment Law
Answer # 595
Retail workersRegion: Ontario Answer # 595
There are certain rights under the Employment Standards Act that only apply to retail workers. You are considered a retail worker if you work in any area of a retail business, which is a business that sells goods or services to the public.
Exceptions to this are businesses that:
- sell prepared foods, such as a restaurant,
- rent living accommodations, such as a hotel,
- provide educational, recreational or amusement services, such as a museum, theme park or zoo, and
- sell goods or services at these types of businesses, such as museum gift shops.
Right to refuse work on public holidays
Retail workers generally have the right to refuse work on public holidays.
Even if you originally agreed to work on a public holiday, you can later decline to work on that day if you give your employer as least 48 hours’ notice.
If the public holiday falls on a day that would ordinarily be a working day, most retail employees qualify for this day off work with public holiday pay.
If the public holiday falls on a day that would not ordinarily be a working day, or the employee is on vacation, most retail employees qualify for a substitute day off with public holiday pay.
Right to refuse work on Sundays
A retail worker hired before September 4, 2001 has the right to refuse to work on a Sunday. However, a retail employee hired after that date does not have the right to refuse to work on Sundays if he or she agreed to work on Sundays when they were hired. This does not apply if the employee refuses to work because of a religious belief or observance.
If a Sunday falls on a public holiday, you do have the right to refuse to work on the day, even if you agreed to work on Sundays when you were hired.
If you originally did not agree to work on a Sunday, and later decide to work on that day, you can again decline to work it if you give your employer as least 48 hours’ notice.
In the case of both Sundays and public holidays, you cannot be punished or fired for not working these days.
Hours of work and overtime
Retail workers are given the same rights as most other workers with regard to the maximum hours of work, overtime, and hours free from work. Generally, they do not have to work more than eight hours a day, or over 44 hours per week. They are also entitled to 24 hours off work for each week worked, or 48 hours for each two weeks worked.
For more information regarding overtime pay, refer to 586 Work hours and overtime. If you are unsure about your rights as a retail worker, or for more information, contact the Employment Standards office at the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
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