Employment Law

Can employers in Ontario cut a worker’s hours?


The short answer is no. Employers in Ontario can’t significantly reduce a non-unionized employee’s hours of work without their consent or a reasonable amount of notice.

If your boss makes substantial adjustments to the terms of your employment, such as cutting your hours of work by 20 per cent, it’s very likely that you could treat the move as a constructive dismissal.

In this situation, the law allows you to quit your job and pursue full severance, which can be as much as 24 months’ pay.

If you believe that you have been constructively dismissed, don’t resign before speaking with an experienced Ontario employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

• Do I get severance if I quit?
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WATCH: Employment lawyer Lior Samfiru breaks down everything you need to know about changes to your job on an episode of the Employment Law Show.

Can my employer reduce my hours of work through my employment contract?

Depending on the industry, some employment contracts in Ontario could contain a clause that allows companies to reduce the hours of work for certain employees.

If you signed an agreement that does include this type of clause, it’s very likely that your employer can modify your hours of work.

However, your boss can’t legally force you to immediately accept a new employment contract that would allow them to reduce your hours of work.

If you receive a new agreement from your employer, don’t sign anything until you speak with an experienced employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

We can review the contract and ensure that your workplace rights are properly protected.

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Can my employer punish me for refusing a reduction in hours of work?

Unless you signed an employment contract that gives your employer the ability to cut your hours of work, the company can’t make significant adjustments to your job to punish you for refusing the reduction.

Major modifications, such as a reduction to your hours of work, are illegal in Ontario.

If you refuse to work fewer hours, and substantial adjustments are made to the terms of your employment shortly after, contact Samfiru Tumarkin LLP immediately.

Our experienced employment lawyers can confirm that you have been constructively dismissed, assess your legal options, and ensure you receive the compensation you are owed.

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My employer is pressuring me to quit after refusing a reduction, what should I do?

In Ontario, employers can’t pressure or force non-unionized workers to resign.

If your boss is influencing you to step down because you won’t work fewer or more hours, document their attempts. Keep any letters, emails, or text messages that show how management is pressuring you to quit.

Unfortunately, some employers can be extremely forceful and aggressive that staff resign because they didn’t feel they had another option.

If you are ultimately forced to quit your job for any reason, contact an experienced Ontario employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

In addition to severance pay, you could be owed compensation for any damages associated with the end of your employment.

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Can my employer fire me for refusing a reduction in hours?

Your employer can fire you for refusing to work fewer hours — even if your employment contract doesn’t give the company the right to modify your schedule.

This is called a termination without cause. Non-unionized employees in Ontario can be let go for any reason, as long as:

If you refuse to work fewer hours, but you previously agreed to a reduction in your employment contract, your boss might be able to fire you for cause.

In this situation, the company doesn’t have to provide you with a severance package and you can’t access Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.

• How to calculate severance pay
• Severance for provincially regulated employees
• Wrongful dismissal in Ontario: Your rights

Lost your job? Speak with an employment lawyer

If you are fired or let go for refusing to work fewer hours, or for any reason, contact the experienced employment law team at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

Our lawyers in Toronto and Ottawa, serving clients across Ontario, can review your situation, enforce your workplace rights, and ensure that you receive the compensation you are legally entitled to.

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