10Labour standards regulations in Canada (hours of work, vacation days, sick leave and more)

Labour standards regulations in Canada (hours of work, vacation days, sick leave and more)

Both the federal and provincial/territorial governments have authority over labour and employment law in Canada.

The Canada Labour Code sets out minimum standards that federally regulated employers and employees must follow. For instance, in industries like banking, radio and TV broadcasting, navigation, transportation that crosses provincial boundaries, the federal public sector, Crown Corporations, etc., the labour rights and responsibilities are defined by the Canada Labour Code.

Employment that is not subject to federal jurisdiction is governed by the laws of the province or territory where the employment takes place.

In many large companies, collective agreements offer better benefits than the minimum standards to follow, for example more paid vacation time, sick leave, longer breaks, etc.

Where can I find information applicable to the province/territory where I work?
To learn about your rights as an employee, refer to the employment laws of your province/territory.

Alberta: The Employment standards page details the rules, regulations and compliance measures for employers and employees in Alberta workplaces.

British Columbia: The Employment standards page offers an overview and a two-page brochure, Working in British Columbia (PDF), that contains information about the Employment Standards Act and regulations.

Manitoba: The Employment standards page features an informative FAQ on most common issues.

New Brunswick: The Employment standards page offers a series of informative PDF documents on topics such as paid public holidays, vacation pay and minimum wage.

Newfoundland and Labrador: The Labour Standards Division Government of Newfoundland and Labrador released a PDF document, Labour relations at work.

Northwest Territories: The Employment standards page offers an informative FAQ.

Nova Scotia: The Employment rights page features information about labour standards rules.

Nunavut: The Labour Standards Compliance Office offers information about its role and services and the legislation. Fact sheets are available.

Ontario: The Ministry of Labour offers information on the Employment standards page, as well as a useful FAQ section.

Prince Edward Island: The Employment standards page offers comprehensive information.

Québec : The Commission des Normes, de l’Équité, de la Santé et de la Sécurité offers information about your rights as an employee. Educaloi, a registered charity dedicated to improve access to justice, also features a comprehensive section about Work.

Saskatchewan: The Employment standards page offers information about workplace rights and responsibilities.

Yukon: The Employment standards page features basic information about minimum wage and statutory holidays.

As a foreign worker, remember that an employer can’t take your passport or work permit and keep it. An employer can’t deport you from Canada either—and if an employer is threatening you, you can file a complaint with your provincial or territorial labour standards office. For more information about your rights as a temporary foreign worker, read this manual from Employment and Social Development Canada.

Overview of labour law in Canada
The Federal labour standards summarises general stats for federally regulated employers, such as standard hours of work (8 hours per 24 hours, 40 hours in a week), overtime (minimum 1.5 times the hourly wage) or vacation (two weeks after you have completed one year of employment with the company).

Note that these standards don’t apply in all industries, sectors or province/territories. Some employees are exempt as well. For instance, in several provinces, managers and supervisors are exempt from the overtime provisions. The overtime threshold can also be more than the standard set hours in a work week in a few positions.

Be sure to look up the exact specifics for your situation based on your location, job position, etc.

Where is my employment contract?
In retail and the food service industry, employees don’t usually sign a written contract of employment. Common practice isn’t always best practice—in case of disagreement with your employer, you don’t have a document to refer to. However, you do have a verbal contract with your employer and employment standards in your province/territory still apply.

Your employer has to give you proper wage statements (“pay stubs”) and a T4 Statement of Remuneration Paid slip (which shows how much money you earned and how much was withheld and remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency) by February 28 at the latest.

Standard hours of work and overtime pay
The standard for full-time employment is typically from 30 to 40 hours a week. In Alberta, New Brunswick and Ontario, you may be entitled to overtime pay if you work more than 44 hours in a week, while in Nova Scotia and in Prince Edward Island, you may have to work more than 48 hours in a week for overtime pay to be triggered.

Note that parties can agree the employee will receive time off in lieu of overtime pay.

In an office environment, a typical workday starts around 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. and ends between 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with an unpaid 30-minute or one-hour lunch break.

In call centres, employees work the morning, afternoon or night shift.

In retail, you can expect to work from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Annual vacation and Paid Time Off (PTO)
The basic entitlement is two weeks of vacation for every completed “year of employment.” Saskatchewan is an exception, as employees are entitled to three weeks of vacation pay. Vacation pay is calculated as a percentage of the gross wages an employee earns during the “year of employment.” Where the vacation entitlement is two weeks, vacation pay is 4% of earnings in the entitlement year; where the entitlement is three weeks, the vacation pay is 6% of earnings.

Paid time off is a bargaining chip employers use. You’ll see job postings promising three weeks of vacation after one year of employment, a paid day off on your birthday (!), etc. Vacation entitlement usually increases with seniority.

You can always try to ask for another unpaid week of vacation time—this kind of request is part of the negotiable non-monetary benefits to talk about after the job offer is made.

Don’t forget to keep a few vacation days—employers have the right to assign when vacation time will be used and many small businesses close between Christmas and New Year, for instance.

Sick leave and unpaid leave
The Canada Labour Code provides protection against dismissal, lay-off, suspension, demotion or discipline because of absence due to illness or injury (“sick leave protection”) but there is no provision for paid leave of absence. The exception is Ontario, where employers must provide all employees in the federally regulated private sector with a minimum of 10 sick days.

Companies may offer paid sick leave as part of their benefits package—inquire when a job offer is made.

Some companies also provide employees with a variety of leave, some of which are paid—parental leave, compassionate care leave, bereavement leave, etc.

Nearly 30% of Canadian workers belong to unions. Unions in Canada are regulated by federal and provincial legislation and are required by law to be democratic and financially accountable to their members. Members pay “union dues” to their local union. Most of the dues stay local to fund activities such as servicing, representation, organising, legal costs, education and so on. A small portion goes to the national union to fund activities and programs.

Collective agreements
Collective agreements are negotiated “collectively” between management (on behalf of the company) and unions (on behalf of employees). The collective agreement regulates the terms and conditions of employees in the workplace, their duties and the duties of the employer. It is usually the result of a process of collective bargaining between an employer (or a number of employers) and a trade union representing workers.

Collective agreements can offer employees better benefits than the minimum provincial/territorial employment standards.

Previous chapter Next chapter

Amoureuse des Etats-Unis, de l'Utah et du voyage en train, j'ai passé 7 mois à Montréal en 2010, et j'en ai profité pour découvrir la Nouvelle-Angleterre en long, en large et en travers !
Mon coup de cœur avec Montréal date de 2008, et d'un mois estival là-bas... Depuis, je ne fais qu'y retourner !

J'ai réalisé deux tours des Etats-Unis (& Canada) en 2012 puis en 2014. Plusieurs mois sur les routes, c'est formateur... De retour à Montréal en 2019-2020 pour un PVT, avant de raccrocher !
Sur PVTistes.net, j'aime partager mon expérience sur le forum, dans des dossiers thématiques ou même en personne ! Vous me croiserez sûrement à Lyon, ma ville de cœur.

Add to my favorites
2 votes

Please login to be able vote.