8 basic employee rights in Canada that you should know

While it’s important to stay informed and be aware of the rights available to you in the workplace to ensure that you are adequately protected, Canadian employment law is notoriously complex and hard to navigate.

To help you out, we’ve broken down the law to explain the 8 basic employee rights (that apply throughout Canada) you should know below:


1. Right to an employment contract

In Canada, all employees are entitled to have a binding and enforceable employment contract. All employment contracts must adhere to the minimum standards of employment, health and safety and human rights. None of the standards can be waived by either party and the employee is entitled to bring a claim to Court if any of the standards are not met.


2. Right to salary above minimum wage

All employees are entitled to be paid and to receive salary either at or above the statutory minimum wage. However, note that minimum wage can differ depending on where you are in Canada. Please refer to this link for a breakdown of the various minimum wages by province and territory.


3. Right to overtime

Rest assured, all Canadian jurisdictions provide provisions in legislation governing overtime pay. These protections apply to both fixed-term and hourly employees. Most employment is regulated by the Canada Labour Code, whereby employees are entitled to 1.5 times their regular wage for all hours worked, in excess of the general maximum working week of 40 hours per week.


4. Right not to be discriminated against

All jurisdictions in Canada have legislation to prevent discrimination in the workplace.

Discrimination can span from race, creed, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, prior criminal history, and so on. The list is not exhaustive, but the onus remains on the employer to ensure that the employees are protected against all forms of discrimination, both direct and indirect.


5 Right to Trade Union

A trade union is an organisation authorised to represent a particular group of employees before management for negotiation purposes. The structure of trade unions in Canada are very similar across all jurisdictions.

It is a constitutional right for all workers in Canada to join a trade union of their choosing and engage in collective bargaining. It is recognised that collective bargaining is a fundamental aspect of society and adds to a fairer workplace for all.


6. Right to privacy

While its not uncommon for workplaces to have restrictions on use of mobile phones during work hours, the balance must be made between workplace governance and respecting an employee’s right to use the internet and freedom of speech.

As such, it is currently still permitted within most jurisdictions for employers to place limits on an employee’s access to the Internet and social media during working hours within their respective workplace policies.


7. Right to statutory leave

In all provinces, employees are entitled to at least 14 days of paid vacation leave each year. Paid leave is also available for new parents who are either expecting, have recently given birth, or are adopting. Sickness allowance is also permitted in all jurisdictions, although the length and nature of it will differ slightly depending on the area of you are in.


8. Right to be reasonably accommodated

Finally, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would go amiss not to mention the employee’s right to be reasonably accommodated in the workplace. The employer’s duty to reasonably accommodate employees now also acknowledges the individual challenges and additional hurdles faced by all during these challenging times.

The standard of what is “reasonable accommodation” is a matter to be discussed and agreed upon between employer and employee. It is only necessary for an employer to offer their employee reasonable accommodation; they need not abide with the employee’s specific request for accommodation (though it will often be taken into account) for the duty to have been discharged.


To find out more about the protections and rights available to you in the workplace, please click the link below to talk to someone from our team.


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