Canada is divided into 14 legal jurisdictions (10 provinces, three territories, and the federal government). The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over employment relations in certain industries, including international and interprovincial transportation, banking, telecommunications, broadcasting, airlines and trucking to other industries under federal jurisdiction. Individual employment relations in industries not governed by federal jurisdiction are subject to territorial statutes and common law.
Wage and Hour Law
The minimum wage for workers in Canada varies by province or territory. Please click here to find your minimum wage rate.
Each Canadian jurisdiction has established a statutory workweek of around 40 hours. Employees that are required to work more than the statutory maximum must be paid overtime, and are generally paid time-and-a-half or greater. All jurisdictions have provisions requiring that employees be allowed to take at least one day off per week. In addition, each jurisdiction provides for a number of paid holidays, including New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Canada Day, Labor Day and Christmas Day.
All Canadian jurisdictions provide for maternity leave, with most providing 17 weeks of unpaid leave. Alberta provides the least amount of time with only 15 weeks, while Saskatchewan and Quebec provide 18 weeks of unpaid leave. Parental leave for both men and women is available for 35 weeks in Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, while the federal jurisdiction, Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon provide workers with 37 weeks of parental leave. Quebec offers the most parental leave – 52 weeks. These unpaid leave provisions have been coordinated with the Federal Employment Insurance Act, which provides paid maternity leave for 15 weeks, with an additional 35 weeks of paid parental leave available to either parent. This means that any maternity or parental leave discussed above that meets the employment insurance time restrictions is paid for by the Canadian government. For more information on how to apply for maternity or parental employment insurance benefits, please click here.
Employees subject to federal jurisdiction as well as employees in British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan and Yukon Territory also benefit from compassionate care leave. Compassionate care leave gives employees unpaid time off to care for ill family members and each jurisdiction has established its own requirements for qualification. In Nova Scotia, employees are also entitled to three days of unpaid leave every year to attend to family medial appointments.
If you are an employee subject to federal jurisdiction, please click here for a helpful brochure on compassionate care benefits.
Right to Shop Steward Representation
Unlike Weingarten rights in the United States, Canadian law does not guarantee workers the right to union steward representation in investigatory interviews. However, most Canadian collective bargaining agreements do afford covered workers this right. If there is such a provision in the bargaining agreement, employers are obligated to inform employees of their right to have a shop steward present at least 24 hours prior to the interview. A covered employee who chooses to waive his or her right to union representation generally must do so in writing. If the employee has not waived his or her right to union representation and the interview takes place without a union steward present, any discipline imposed as a result of information gathered at the interview will be overturned as void during arbitration.