Under Ontario law, can we pay students different wage rates than other temporary employees hired during the same timeframe?
Yes, but only in very limited situations.
There are 2 parts of the Ontario ESA that allow or require employers to treat students differently from other employees regarding wages:
Unpaid Internships: Section 3(5) says the ESA, including the requirement to pay employees at least minimum wage, doesn’t apply if the employee:
Is a secondary school student working under a work experience program authorized by the school board that operates the school in which the student’s enrolled;
Performs work under a program approved by a college of applied arts and technology or university; and
Performs work under a program that’s approved by a private career college registered under and meets the requirements of the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005.
Temporary Student Minimum Wage: ESA Section 23.1(1) establishes a special $13.15 per hour minimum wage for students under age 18 who are employed during a school holiday and whose weekly hours are 28 hours or less. The wage took effect on Jan. 1, 2018 and remains in place until the current Ontario minimum wage freeze ends on Oct. 1, 2020.