March 15, 2013
Employers of landscape gardeners are exempt from the requirement to pay overtime. However, the Ministry of Labour (MOL) has a specific interpretation of what constitutes landscape gardener work. In general, this type of work includes landscape maintenance, planting, caring for lawns and plants, installing rock gardens and planters, parks work and golf course greens keeping.

When must I, as an employer, pay overtime?

If scope of an employee’s work falls outside of the MOL’s landscape gardener definition, employers may be required to pay overtime. There are also special rules concerning construction work which may cover other landscape site work not technically under the landscape gardener exemption. The ministry maintains an interactive web page that describes the special rules for different occupations:

Most of my work involves irrigation contracting. Must I pay my workers overtime?

Yes, irrigation contractors installing irrigation systems, must pay employees overtime.    

Is a landscape contractor installing irrigation systems required to pay overtime?

It depends. If the employee is installing irrigation systems less than 50 per cent of the time, overtime is not required. If, however, the employee specialized in installing irrigation systems most of his work time, then overtime applies.

I run a lawn care company. Are my employees considered landscape gardeners?

Yes, and the overtime exemption applies. However, if most of an employee’s work is related to vegetation management along railway or transmission lines, payment of overtime is required.

Does the exemption apply to landscape contractors?

If an employee of a landscape contractor works mainly on building retaining walls, overtime is required.

From a practical, administrative and level-playing-ground perspective, Landscape Ontario believes that the Ministry of Labour interpretation of the term “Landscape Gardener” is flawed, and should be more comprehensive. Although LO has attempted to convince the ministry to broaden its interpretation, the association has not been successful to date.  

Please see for more information.