The definition of a ‘worker’ has changed

The new definition of worker under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) expands coverage of the OHSA to unpaid co-op students, buy certain other learners and trainees participating in a work placement in Ontario.

If you have an unpaid co-op student, sickness learner or trainee as described above working on your farm, they now have the same rights under the OHSA as paid workers such as the right to know about hazards and to refuse unsafe work.  This also means that employers have the same duties towards an unpaid co-op student and other unpaid trainees and learners at their workplace as they have toward paid workers.

Specifically, the new definition of worker now includes:

  • Unpaid secondary school students who are participating in a work experience program, authorized by the school board that operates the school in which the students are enrolled,
  • Other unpaid learners participating in a program approved by a post-secondary institution, and,
  • Any unpaid trainees who are not employees for the purposes of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) because they meet certain conditions.

Volunteers are not covered by this new definition of worker. 



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