You pride yourself on meeting or even exceeding employment standards, but some areas are harder to figure out than others. Most workers in Canada (apart from federally regulated employees) are protected by the employment laws of their province or territory.

Employment standards are the minimum standards established by law that guarantee fair rights in the workplace. Here are the basics of what you should know:

  • Employment standards legislation covers areas such as hours of work, overtime pay, minimum wage, vacation time and vacation pay, public holidays, meal breaks, pregnancy and parental leave, personal emergency and family medical leave, termination notice and termination pay.
  • Your employees are entitled to hourly minimum wage, which varies depending on the province.
  • Hours of work and overtime rules vary across Canada, but there is a general rule that you must pay your employees an overtime rate of one and a half times their regular rate of pay.

Make sure you know the requirements for a safe and healthy workplace:

  • All employees have the right to work in a safe environment, and to refuse unsafe work. If one of your employees gets hurt at work, you are required to provide workers compensation benefits.
  • Your employees have the right to be treated fairly and equally in their workplace. Familiarize yourself with the regulations of a discrimination-free workplace found in the Employment Equity Act.
  • Most workers have the right to annual vacation with pay. There are differences in entitlements and eligibility depending on your province or territory.
  • A public holiday in most cases means you must grant your employees the day off with pay, or overtime if they work. Every province or territory has its own list of public holidays.

It's important to keep in mind that not all employees are entitled to the same employment rights. Look at your provincial or territorial ministry of labour to learn about your employment standards. If you run a federally-regulated business, different rules and requirements apply.

Employment standards can be tricky; it's important to know what your employees' entitlements are. Keep in mind that you are required to keep records of wages, vacations, holidays and overtime of employees. To learn more, check out our section on Employment standards.