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The labor laws in Canada are embodied in its Labor Code which specifies the duties of employers, employment standard regulations and benefits of workers.

WORKING HOURS

The standard number of working hours of an employee shall not exceed eight (8) hours a day and 40 hours a week, in excess of which, the employee is entitled to an overtime pay. “Flexible” hours written in a contract usually results in rendering work in excess of the required number. A worker can refuse to have “flexible” hours in the contract. A worker is entitled to a 30-minute break for every five (5) hours of work.

Employees must be paid on a regular, recurring pay-day and given a statement showing their wages and deductions for that pay period. They must be paid overtime pay after 44 hours of work each week. The overtime rate must at least 1 ½ times the regular rate of pay.

In case of job termination, an employer must give an employee advance written notice, or termination pay instead of notice, or a combination of both, if the employee has been working continuously for three (3) months or more. The notice or amount of pay depends on how long the employee has been working for the employer and the number of employees being terminated in a four-week period.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

Most employees are allowed to take public holidays off regardless of how long they have been working and whether they are full-time, part-time, permanent, a student, or on a limited-term contract. The following are Canada’s public or statutory holidays: 

  1. New Year’s Day
  2. Good Friday
  3. Victoria Day
  4. Canada Day
  5. Labor Day
  6. Thanksgiving Day
  7. Christmas Day
  8. Boxing Day

LIST OF CANADIAN HOLIDAYS IN 2016

New Year's Day January 1, Friday National
Islander Day February 15, Monday PEI
Louis Riel Day Feb 15, Monday MB
Heritage Day February 15, Monday NS
Family Day February 15, Monday (Feb 8 in BC) BC, AB, SK, ON
Valentine's Day February 14, Sunday Not a stat holiday
Leap Day February 29, Monday Not a holiday
St. Patrick's Day March 17, Thursday Not a stat holiday
Good Friday March 25, Friday National except QC
Easter Monday March 28, Monday QC
Mother's Day May 8, Sunday Not a stat holiday
Victoria Day May 23, Monday National except NB, NS, NL
Father's Day June 19, Sunday Not a holiday
Aboriginal Day June 21, Tuesday NWT
St. Jean Baptiste Day June 24, Friday QC
Canada Day July 1, Friday National
Civic Holiday August 1, Monday AB, BC, SK, ON, NB, NU
Labour Day September 5, Monday National
Thanksgiving October 10, Monday National except NB, NS, NL
Halloween October 31, Monday Not a holiday
Remembrance Day November 11, Friday National except MB, ON, QC, NS
Christmas Day December 25, Sunday National
Boxing Day December 26, Monday ON

The employer must give the worker these days off with pay as long as the latter has been employed for at least (3) months before the holiday and has worked during the regularly scheduled work days before and after the holiday. The employee and employer may agree to substitute any other holiday for a general holiday. 

LEAVES

Pregnancy Leave and Parental Leave

Eligible employees are entitled to take 17 weeks of pregnancy leave and 35 weeks of parental leave. All other eligible parents, including pregnant employees who do not avail of pregnancy leave, can take up to 37 weeks of parental leave. These are unpaid, job-protected leaves.

Emergency Leave

If an employer regularly employs at least 50 people, his/her workers are allowed to take up to 10 days a year of unpaid, job-protected emergency leave. This leave is for illness, injury, or medical emergency or for the death, illness, injury, medical emergency or urgent matter of family members.

Family Medical Leave

Employees can take a family medical leave to care for and support family members who have a serious illness and with a significant risk of dying within 26 weeks. It is unpaid, job-protected leave of up to 8 weeks in a 26-week period.

Family Leave in Canada

ü  Female employees are entitled to a standard 17 weeks unpaid, job-protected maternity leave. In addition, both male and female employees are granted up to 37 weeks unpaid, job-protected parental leave (35 weeks for women if being combined with maternity leave for a total of 52 weeks) in order to care for a newborn or newly adopted child.1

ü  If unable to work as a result of sickness, injury or quarantine, an employee may be entitled to a "sickness benefit" from the Canadian Government of up to 55% of previous average insured earnings. This "sickness benefit" may become payable two weeks after earnings are interrupted due to an inability to work and provides benefit of up to 15 weeks of loss of earnings due to sickness. A combination of pregnancy, parental and sickness benefits can be received up to a combined maximum of 50 weeks.2

Vacation Leave

After twelve (12) months of continuous service with the same employer, the worker is entitled to at least two weeks vacation with pay. This can be taken together or as two one-week vacations. The worker may avail of this paid vacation with pay not later than ten months after he/she qualifies for it. The employer must give a written statement about the vacation pay. 

Leave of Absence

An employee who wishes to take a leave of absence must first comply with the following requirements:

  1. Give at least four (4) weeks notice in writing to the employer unless there is a valid reason why that notice cannot be given.
  2. Inform the employer regarding the length of leave the employee wishes to take.

RETIREMENT AGE

Since 1951, the age of 65 has been the “normal” retirement age in the Canadian retirement income system. However, the age at which Canadians retire varies depending on the circumstances and options affecting each individual. Generally, Canadians opt to retire earlier: the average retirement age having decreased from 64.9 in 1976 to 61.6 in 2000. 

LABOR AGREEMENTS

At present, Canada has linked Labor Agreements with various countries. They are the following: 

  • North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation
  • Canada-Chile Agreement on Labor Cooperation
  • Canada-Costa Rica Agreement on Labor Cooperation
  • Canada-Singapore Agreement on Labor Cooperation
  • Canada-Brazil Memorandum of Understanding
  • Canada-Central America Four Agreements on Labor Cooperation

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS

As an employee, you are entitled to work in an environment that is free of discrimination and harassment. Harassment means any inappropriate or hurtful behaviour that affects you personally and that the originator knew or should have known was offensive. It may take the form of comments or actions by a colleague, superior, or subordinate which humiliate, demean, or embarrass you. Examples include the display of degrading or hurtful material, unsolicited physical contact, and improper remarks. Harassment or discrimination by an employee happens outside the workplace or outside working hours and harms your work relations, your job security, or your general well-being at work.

The Canadian Human Rights Act, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Public Service Employment Act, and/or collective agreements do not allow any discrimination based on race, creed, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, a conviction for which a pardon has been granted, a physical or mental disability, or membership in a union. These laws and other provincial/territorial codes are designed to cover acts of discrimination by private indviduals or firms.