Your rights as an employee when you work in Canada are protected by law. Most Canadian employers follow the rules and create a safe and positive work environment. This is unfortunately not always true. It is important to understand what employers can expect of you and how you can ensure that you are treated well at work.
While most employees are covered by provincial laws, some industries are federally regulated.
Your labour rights in Canada
Each territory and province has its own Human Rights Code or Act, which governs the rights of employees in that province. The Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion offers a detailed comparison of these rights and standards across Canada.
To simplify the legalese, you should know that you have rights at work and that there are mechanisms to assist you if you are being violated.
Canada’s rights regarding the job
You’ll have certain rights throughout your career in terms of pay, schedule, sick leave and other aspects. These rights are generally the same across the country, though there may be slight differences among provinces.
The number of work hours per week is a key point that all workers should remember. An eight-hour work day is considered normal. This may include unpaid breaks. This means that full-time workers work between 35 and 40 hours per week over a five-day working week. For the purposes of benefit and deduction calculations, full-time employment is defined as working between 30 and 40 hours per week. This means that even if you only work 30 hours per week, you may still be eligible for all the benefits and deductions available to full-time employees.
Overtime pay is usually available to employees who work more than 40 hours per week. These rules can differ depending on the position or industry. Please refer to the provincial advice pages listed below. If in doubt, ask these questions during a job interview.
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Although the conditions for vacation pay are different in each province, the basic principles remain the same. Employees earn vacation pay at four percent. This equates to two weeks of vacation per year if they work full-time. After a few years, this usually increases to six percent and three week’s vacation. It is important to remember that vacation pay is earned on the earnings of every employee. If you work part-time, your vacation pay can be equal to four percent of your earnings.