Amazon HQ2: Will They Play By Ontario’s Rules?

by Samfiru Tumarkin

Thursday, January 18th, 2018 at 1:37 pm


Amazon Inc. has announced that Toronto is the only Canadian city that has been shortlisted by the company for a second North American headquarters.

The e-commerce giant received 238 applications, and indicated the task of narrowing the field down to 20 was a difficult one.

While this is great news for Canadians – Amazon plans to invest $5 billion into the project and hire 50,000 people in their city of choice – employees eyeing an employment opportunity with the e-commerce giant must keep in mind two important points.

Amazon: American Company, Ontario’s Rules

Amazon is known to have a pretty harsh and demanding work culture. While they are an American company, they will have to observe employment legislation in Canada (specifically the Employment Standards Act), which is generally more protective of employee rights than any American rules of law.

Ontario’s Bill 148 (The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act) introduced amendments to the employment standards act. These changes affected minimum wage, independent contractor relationships, various leaves of absences, equal pay for equal work, and more. If Amazon opens a second headquarters in Toronto, they will have to abide by these workplace rules.

Many American businesses are either unaware of the fact that they must follow provincial workplace legislation where Canadian employees are concerned, or they chose to willfully ignore said legislation.

If your employment is terminated, and your employer is based in the United States, you should consult our experienced employment and labour lawyers before signing any exit agreement or severance offer. At the very least, you should consult The Severance Pay Calculator to discover what your full entitlements are.

Amazon: Beware The Employment Agreement


Do not sign an employment agreement before having it reviewed by one of our employment lawyers. We recommend this not only for those who may one day be handed a job offer from Amazon’s second headquarters in Toronto, but for all employees in Ontario and British Columbia.

An employment agreement can contain very restrictive termination clauses, as well as problematic non-competition obligations. Contracts may also allow employers to unilaterally change the terms of employment. These terms can often be easily negotiated. For example, a contract with a fair severance clause can be worth tens of thousands of dollars or more to an employee whose employment was terminated.

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