What are my rights if I get paid in cash for work?

All workers are protected by labour laws, even if they get paid in cash and even if they don’t have valid immigratoin papers or status.

What forms of payment can employers use?

According to the Employment Standard Act, the law that sets the minimum standards for workplaces in Ontario, your employer can pay your wages by:

  • cash
  • cheque payable to the employee
  • direct deposit to an account in the employee’s name.

Employers can also give their employees non-wage forms of compensation, like:

  • Meal allowances 
  • Commuter benefits 
  • Merchandise 
  • Bonuses

Non-wage forms of compensation CANNOT replace the minimum wage every employee is entitled to. 

What are the laws around getting paid in cash?

It’s not illegal to get paid in cash.

Many employers pay their workers in cash, including for jobs in:

  • Construction
  • Cleaning
  • Day labour
  • Temp agencies
  • Service industry 

Even if you get paid in cash, you’re entitled to at least the minimum wage and a pay stub every time you get paid. 

In Canada, part of what you earn for any given pay period will be deducted by your employer for taxes, the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), and Employment Insurance (EI). The amounts of these deductions should be clearly listed on your pay stub. 

Don’t be surprised if the cash you get is less than the exact amount you worked, but double check to make sure the deductions are correct.  

Your pay stub should include:

  • how many hours you worked for that period.
  • your pay rate.
  • any overtime or public holiday pay you earned.
  • deductions taken for taxes, CPP, and EI.

At the end of every fiscal year in April, you are responsible for filing your taxes and reporting your earnings to the government. Your employer will give you the tax forms you need to report your income, but it’s a good idea to keep a record of your pay stub just in case. 

What if I am working without any status?

If you have a job without a valid Social Insurance Number, work permit, or other immigration status that allows you to work in Canada, you are still entitled to your labour rights. 

Labour rights include:

  • Employment standards (e.g., minimum wage, overtime pay, regulated hours, etc.)
  • Health and safety (e.g., safe working conditions)
  • Human rights (e.g., the right to equal equal treatment without discrimination)

If your employer is denying you any of your rights, you can file a claim at the Ministry of Labour.

The Ministry of Labour is responsible for protecting workers’ rights and settling disputes. They are not supposed to share immigration information with Canada’s Immigration departmernt. 

The government also keeps track of employers who’ve violated employment standards

How can I protect myself if I’m working a cash job?

The risk you run while doing a cash job is from failing to keep records or paying taxes. You can take measures to protect yourself to avoid having issues with your employer like pay discrepancies, or with the government if they audit you to check whether you reported your income accurately.

Here are some tips from the Workers’ Action Centre

  • Record the hours, dates, locations where you work.
  • Take note of any problems that happen and keep those notes private (either in a personal notebook or device at home).
  • Keep records of all communication (e.g., texts, emails, phone calls, letters, even notes of conversations).
  • Research and write down information about your employer and their company (e.g., names and titles, home and work addresses, phone numbers, vehicle information including plates, etc.)
  • Only share personal information, like your address and immigration status, with people you trust.

Where can I get support if my workers’ rights are being violated?

Workers’ Action Centre

416-531-0778

www.workersactioncentre.org

Caregivers’ Action Centre

647-782-6633

www.caregiversactioncentre.org

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change

Migrant farmworkers – 905-324-2840 (English) or 647-807-4722 (Spanish)

Migrant student workers – 647-858-2854

www.migrantworkersalliance.org

IAVGO (Industrial Accident Victims’ Group of Ontario)

1-877-230-6311

www.iavgo.org

Injured Workers’ Consultants

416-461-2411

www.injuredworkersonline.org

Toronto Workers Health & Safety Legal Clinic

416-971-8832

www.workers-safety.ca

Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (HRTO)

1-866-598-0322

www.hrto.ca

Canadian Human Rights Commission

1-888-214-1090

www.chrc-ccdp.ca

Human Rights Legal Support Centre

1-866-625-5179

www.hrlsc.on.ca

Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO)

www.yourlegalrights.on.ca

www.cleo.on.ca

Assaulted Women’s Hotline

1-866-863-0511

www.awhl.org

Distress Centre

416-408-4357

www.torontodistresscentre.com

Sexual Harassment and Assault Resource Exchange (SHARE)

1-866-625-5179, press 5 for SHARE

www.hrlsc.on.ca/share/welcome