Canada Labour Laws

April 12th 2024

This article covers:

What are Canada Time Management Laws?

The main goal of Canadian labor standards is to ensure that workers have fair and just working conditions. Canada has 10 provinces and three territories and because it is made up of different provinces and territories, the labor standards can differ depending on the location and type of work being done.

The Canada Labour Code (the Code) is the main legislation that defines the obligations and entitlements of workers and employers at a federal jurisdiction as well as the federal labour laws. As an act instituted by the Parliament of Canada, it applies to certain activities, such as interprovincial and international services, broadcasting, air transport, banking, fisheries protection, and projects deemed advantageous to Canada by the Parliament, regardless of where the work is being performed. Employees who work in such industries are also subject to other regulations such as the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.

For all other types of work, employees must refer to the labor standards established by the province or territory where the work will take place. These are as follows: Provinces


The Code currently covers four sections:

  1. Part I: Industrial Relations This section deals with the regulation of workplace interactions and negotiations between unions and employers, including provisions related to resolving disputes, going on strike, and imposing lockouts. It sets out the responsibilities and rights of employers, trade unions, and employees and applies to Federally regulated private sectors, as well as private sector firms and municipalities located in Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.
  2. Part II: Occupational Health and SafetyThis section outlines regulations aimed at preventing workplace accidents, injuries, and illnesses. It stipulates that the employer bears the responsibility of safeguarding the health and safety of employees while they are at work, as well as non-employees who have access to the workplace, such as contractors or members of the public. It also imposes obligations on employees, as well as the health and safety committee or representative, to assist in preventing occupational accidents and diseases. This section is applicable to both Federally regulated private sectors and Federally regulated public sectors.
  3. Part III: Federal Labour StandardsThis section establishes the terms and conditions of employment and is designed to safeguard workers’ rights to fair and equitable working conditions and create a level playing field for employers. The provisions outline minimum working entitlements such as minimum wages, hours of work, statutory holidays, annual vacations, and various types of leave. The section applies to Federally regulated private sectors.
  4. Part IV: Administrative Monetary Penalties (effective January 1, 2021) – This section requires the public naming of employers who violate Part II, Part III, or related regulations of the Canada Labour Code. For this, it empowers the Governor in Council to create regulations that identify which violations can be subject to a monetary penalty, determine how to calculate the amount of a fine, and provide guidance on the administrative process, such as document service requirements. It also outlines the fundamental framework for matters like review and appeal procedures and the new Administrative Monetary Penalties system. This section applies to both Federally regulated private sectors, Federally regulated public sectors.

To support and encourage employers to be compliant with the Code, the Labour Program, a federal institution that operates within Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), serves as a regulator responsible for safeguarding the rights and well-being of both employees and employers in workplaces under federal jurisdiction. The Labour Program provides support through awareness and education and uses fair, foreseeable, and nationally consistent measures to enforce compliance with the Code. Among the measures enforced by the Program are the Collective Bargaining process, Dispute Prevention, and Arbitration Appointments. If the Labour Program determines that an employer is not meeting conditions, it may take a series of increasingly severe enforcement actions to ensure compliance with the Code, including voluntary compliance assurance, determination letters, payment orders, collection of funds, compliance orders, administrative monetary penalties, court filings, prosecutions, and public disclosure of the employer’s name. On an international level, the Program’s International Labour Affairs department represents Canada in discussions related to the enhancement of international labor laws and also negotiates and implements Labor Cooperation Agreements with trade partners.

Regardless of whether they are provincially or federally regulated, all employees in Canada are protected by employment standards legislation that specifies the rights of employees and establishes minimum employment conditions for wages and benefits that must be followed.

Canada Minimum Wage  $17.30 per hour (Effective April 1, 2024)
Canada Overtime 1.5x the regular hourly wage or Time off with pay, equivalent to 1.5 hours of time off for every hour worked
Canada Breaks At least 30 minutes unpaid break during every period of five consecutive hours of work

What are the Hiring, Working & Dismissal Laws in Canada?

To be lawfully employed in Canada, individuals must be either citizens of Canada, permanent residents, or possess a certain type of visa that permits them to work.

When hiring employees in Canada, employers must abide by the Canadian Human Rights Act, which mandates that they assess candidates based solely on their abilities, qualifications, and merit. It is prohibited to consider any attributes unrelated to the job or any workplace rights that they may have exercised. Federal and provincial human rights laws outline prohibited grounds of discrimination and harassment in the workplace. These grounds consist of various attributes such as:

  • Race
  • National or ethnic origin
  • Colour
  • Religion
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital status
  • Family status
  • Disability
  • A conviction for which a pardon has been granted or a record suspended

Additionally, employment equity in Canada aims to establish equal representation for four designated groups: women, Indigenous peoples, individuals with disabilities, and members of visible minorities.

When an individual begins working for a company, they typically receive an employment contract from the employer. The terms and conditions of the contract must be mutually understood and agreed upon by the employer and employee without any form of coercion for it to be signed.

Further, employers are required to determine the Employer/Employee Relationship in order to avoid the misclassification of employees. Examples of misclassification of employees may include a driver who should be classified as an employee but is instead categorised as a self-employed/independent worker, an intern or employee who is improperly classified as a student intern, or an employee who holds company shares but has no control over ownership or business operations and is erroneously classified as an associate. If an employer intentionally misclassifies an employee to avoid their obligations under the relevant code and regulations, they are violating the Code and may face enforcement measures by the Labour Program, such as an administrative monetary penalty (AMP) or prosecution. 

Employers and their staff are usually obligated by health and safety laws in the majority of provinces and territories in Canada to take practical and sensible actions to minimise or eliminate any potential hazards that may impact the health and safety of workers while they carry out their jobs duties. Further, Schedule II “Notice Related to the Canada Labour Code – Part III” must be posted in the workplace to inform employees of their rights and how to obtain further information about federal labour standards.

In Canada, the majority of jurisdictions have their own labour relations laws that grant all employees the right to join the trade union of their choosing and engage in lawful activities related to the union’s organisation. A strike is legally allowed for unionised employees if the issue in question falls under the purview of the relevant labour relations legislation. However, if employees are not members of a union, then this right is revoked and it is considered as an unlawful strike.

The process of terminating an employee in Canada is protected by employment standards and human rights laws. Additional protection may also be provided under common law. The Canada Labour Code outlines specific procedures to follow when terminating employment.

Employees have the option to voluntarily end their employment by providing notice according to the requirements set out in relevant employment standards legislation or their employment contract. If a federally regulated employee decides to quit, they do not have to provide notice to their employer. But if the employer terminates their position, then the employer must either give the employee 2 weeks’ written notice or pay them an amount equal to 2 weeks’ regular wages in lieu of such notice.

In the case of a group termination of employment, which involves terminating 50 or more employees at a single industrial establishment on the same date or within any 4 week period, employers must provide written notice of the planned group termination to the Head of Compliance and Enforcement at least 16 weeks before the employment terminations begin. Employers must also give notice of individual termination or the group termination of employment notice or pay in lieu of notice to each affected employee identified as part of the group. As soon as the employer provides the employees with notice of a group termination, a joint planning committee with employee representatives must be created. However, the employer can ask the Minister of Labour to waive certain actions such as the obligation for a joint planning committee, the requirement to provide notice, the need to cooperate with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC), and the need to give employees a written statement of benefits, if it would be harmful to employees or the company and similar measures are already in place. Employers can use a form to notify the Head of Compliance and Enforcement or apply for a waiver

Layoffs are considered a termination of employment when an employer lays off an employee without any intention of recalling them to work. In such cases, the employer has the obligations associated with the termination of employment, and employees are entitled to certain rights, such as protection from unfair dismissal, as a result of this defined termination.

Federally regulated employees, excluding managers, who have worked continuously for the same employer for at least 12 months and are not covered by a collective agreement are protected from unjust dismissal under Part III of the Canada Labour Code. The term “unfair dismissal” can also encompass situations referred to as “constructive dismissal.” This happens when an employer has not explicitly terminated an employee, but has breached a significant aspect of the employment contract, made major unilateral changes to the terms of employment, or stated an intention to do either. Employees who believe they have been unfairly dismissed can file a complaint alleging unfair dismissal within 90 days of the dismissal.

If an employee is laid off or dismissed resulting in termination of employment, and they have worked for the employer for at least 12 consecutive months, they can receive severance pay. The amount of severance pay they are entitled to is two days’ regular wages for each full year of employment with the employer prior to termination. However, the minimum benefit they can receive is five days’ wages. 

Employers are required to maintain employment and payroll records for each employee for a minimum of 36 months, as well as an additional 36 months after the employee’s departure. These include general records, earning records, averaging records, and additional requirements. Specific details of what should be included in each employee record file are set in the Canada Labour Standards. Employers must also keep records for student interns for at least 36 months after their internship ends, and the Standards for Work-Integrated Learning Activities Regulations outline the specific details that must be included in each student intern’s record file. The Labour Program may request to see these records during a workplace inspection or complaint investigation. Failure to provide these records may result in enforcement actions, including administrative monetary penalties based on the complaint and noncompliance with record-keeping requirements.   

What Are the Key Labor Laws in Canada?

Here, we provide a brief overview of significant employment laws in Canada that may not be related to the categories we have previously explored:

  • The Canadian Human Rights Act: The Canadian Human Rights Act is legislation that forbids discrimination in employment and services under federal jurisdiction. This Act ensures the equal and fair treatment of employees and offers protection to Canadians against discrimination when they are provided services or employed by federal government institutions, including First Nations governments, or private companies regulated by the federal government, such as telecommunications companies, broadcasters, banks, and trucking companies. 
  • Duty to Accommodate: According to the Code, it is mandatory for employers, unions, housing providers, and service providers to accommodate individuals with disabilities who are negatively impacted by a requirement, rule, or standard. Accommodation is essential to ensure that people with disabilities have equal opportunities, access, and benefits. Employment, housing, services, and facilities should be inclusive and must be adjusted to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities in a way that supports their integration and full participation. Duty to accommodate pertains to needs that are linked to grounds of discrimination. It is important to note that there are situations where it is impractical to make accommodations because it would result in an excessive burden for an organisation. 
  • The Employment Equity Act: The Employment Equity Act is legislation at the federal level that mandates organisations and businesses under federal jurisdiction to ensure equal employment opportunities for four specific groups. These four groups are women, Aboriginal peoples (Indian, Inuit, or Métis), individuals with disabilities, and members of visible minorities. The Act aims to attain equality in the workplace and ensure that individuals are not deprived of employment opportunities or benefits based on factors unrelated to their capabilities.
  • The Federal Contractors Program: The Federal Contractors Program (FCP), similar to the Employment Equity Act, also aims to ensure equal employment opportunities for four designated groups, namely women, aboriginal peoples, individuals with disabilities, and members of visible minorities. However, the FCP is specifically applicable to employers who operate under the jurisdiction of a province and have a federal government contract worth at least $1 million for goods or services. The Workplace Equity Information Management System (WEIMS) is an online application that assists federal contractors under FCP to meet their obligations under the Employment Equity Act.
  • The Legislated Employment Equity Program: Federally regulated organisations and businesses are required by the Legislated Employment Equity Program (LEEP) to annually report on the representation of individuals from four designated groups, namely women, aboriginal peoples, individuals with disabilities, and members of visible minorities, in their workplaces and outline the measures taken to ensure full representation. This applies to approximately 500 private-sector employers, 30 crown corporations, and five other federal organisations, with a collective workforce of over 760,000 employees. Leep is compulsory under the Employment Equity Act provisions and is enforced and implemented by the Labour Program. The online application WEIMS is used to help employers under LEEP meet their obligations under the Employment Equity Act.
  • The Canada Labour Code: The Canada Labour Code outlines the labour rights and responsibilities of approximately 820,000 employees and 12,000 businesses, making up about 6% of the Canadian workforce. It covers various aspects such as industrial relations, workplace health and safety, and employment standards, including minimum wage, general holidays, annual vacations, working hours, unjust dismissals, layoff procedures, and severance pay. Sectors not covered by the Code are subject to employment standards set by their respective provincial or territorial ministry of labour.
  • Rights for Foreign Workers: Foreign workers in Canada are protected by Canadian laws. Among the rights of temporary foreign workers in Canada are access to information about their rights, a signed copy of their employment agreement, fair pay, a safe workplace, and access to healthcare. Employers must follow employment standards and cannot force workers to perform unsafe work or work beyond their agreement, retain their passport or work permit, penalise them for reporting mistreatment or deport them. Foreign workers are able to contact their provincial or territorial offices without fear of punishment or deportation to enquire about labour and employment laws.  
  • Occupational Health and Safety: Provisions to prevent workplace accidents, injuries, and occupational diseases are set out in Part II of the Canada Labour Code. The employer is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of employees while at work, as well as non-employees who are given access to the workplace. The Code also imposes duties on employees and the health and safety committee or its representatives to help prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.

Canada Payment Laws

What is the Minimum Wage in Canada?

As of April 1, 2024, the federal minimum wage in Canada is $17.30 per hour, which is adjusted annually to account for inflation based on Canada’s Consumer Price Index from the previous calendar year. 

Each Canadian province has its own set of entitlements for employees, such as minimum wage, paid vacation, sick leave, and other benefits. In case the minimum wage set by the province or territory the employee is working in is higher than the federal minimum wage, the employee will receive the provincial or territorial rate. Employers should regularly review their employees’ pay rates to ensure compliance with the applicable employment standards legislation and prevent wages from falling below the minimum amount. Here are the Current and Forthcoming General Minimum Wage Rates in Canada.

Employees who show up to work when asked by the employer are entitled to at least three hours of wages at their regular rate, regardless of whether they actually work during that time. If the employee is not paid on an hourly basis, they must receive at least the minimum wage equivalent. The Minister of Labour can set a rate that is equal to at least the minimum wage in cases where the employee is paid on a basis other than time, such as an annual salary or mileage rate. This rate is calculated by dividing the total salary (excluding any vacation, general holiday, or overtime pay) by the number of hours worked.  

What are the Exceptions for Minimum Payment in Canada?

Employers do not have to adhere to the minimum wage regulations when it comes to employees who are registered and receiving payment under a provincial apprenticeship act. Additionally, if the employer provides employees with room and/or board (which means the provision of accommodations and, in some instances, food), and they agree to the arrangement, the employer may reduce the wages below the minimum wage. This reduction cannot exceed 50 cents per meal and 60 cents per day for living quarters. Further, there are also different Federal labour standards for interns and student interns  

What is the Payment Due Date in Canada?

Employers are required to pay employees wages on the regular established payday. If employees are entitled to vacation pay, it must be paid at the time the vacation is taken. In case a termination of employment occurs and there is vacation pay outstanding, the employer must pay it within 30 days following the employee’s last day of work.

What are Pay Deduction Laws in Canada?

Employers are allowed to make deductions from employee wages in Canada in certain amounts, but only if they fall under specific categories. These include deductions required by federal or provincial law, such as taxes and employment insurance, those authorised by court order, such as garnished child support payments, those allowed by a collective agreement, such as union dues, and deductions for overpaid wages. Additionally, employees may authorise their employer to make deductions with written consent for donations to charity, contributions to savings plans, and insurance premiums. Authorisation for these types of deductions must be written specifying the amount, purpose, and frequency of the deduction. Written consent is also required if the employer wishes to deduct traffic tickets or fines or deduct money for property damage. If the employer believes the employee is responsible for the damage, the matter can be taken to civil court for resolution.  

What are the Laws on Owed Wages and Wage Recovery Assistance in Canada?

Employees who work for federally regulated employers can recover unpaid wages that they believe their employer owes them through a wage recovery system outlined in the Canada Labour Code. Through the system, the Labour Program is authorised to collect up to 24 months of unpaid wages or other amounts owed for hours worked, vacation pay, general holiday pay, severance pay, and pay in lieu of notice of termination of employment. The Labour Program can also determine the amounts owed using the best available evidence in the event that an employer fails to provide payroll records. Employees who suspect that their employer owes them unpaid wages or other amounts may file a complaint with the Labour Program

If the Program finds the employer owes the employee wages, they will first ask for voluntary payment, if not agreed, they will issue a Notice of Voluntary Compliance for a review request to be made by the employee, and if still not complied, a Payment Order may be issued to collect unpaid wages.

If the Program finds that the employer does not owe the employee wages or other amounts, both will receive the Prgoram’s findings in writing, along with a Notice of Unfounded Complaint, giving the employee the opportunity to request a review. If a pattern of non-compliance is found, the employer may face enforcement action.  

What are Canada Laws on Pay Equity?

In Canada, employees have the right to be paid equally for work of equal value, regardless of gender. This is known as pay equity. For this purpose, the Pay Equity Act was introduced in 2018 and came into force in 2021 in Canada. The act is enforced by the Office of the Pay Equity Commissioner which provides support and tools to help employers achieve pay equity in their workplaces and mandates federally regulated employers with 10 or more employees to take proactive measures to address gender wage gaps. 

Canada Overtime Laws

What are the Standard Work Hours in Canada?

Employees or student interns are required to work for 8 hours a day (a day is defined as a 24 consecutive hours period) and 40 hours a week with a one-day rest period, typically on Sunday. They are also entitled to breaks and rest periods. If there are general holidays in Canada during a week, the standard working hours are reduced by 8 hours for each holiday.

There are certain employee classes that are considered Exemptions from and Modifications to Hours of Work Provisions Regulations. These include:

What Constitutes Overtime in Canada?

Overtime refers to additional hours worked by an employee over the standard work hours. For overtime work, employees are entitled to either a pay rate of at least 1.5 times their regular hourly wage or time off with pay equivalent to 1.5 hours of time off for every hour worked. For instance, 3 hours of overtime worked allows for 4.5 hours of time off with pay.

An employee that opts for time off with pay needs to request it from their employer and have a written agreement that includes the dates when the time off will be taken.

Employees who are subject to a collective agreement must take the time off within 3 months of the end of the pay period when the overtime was worked, or within a longer period agreed upon in writing by the employee and employer. If there is no collective agreement in place, the employee should take the time off within 3 months after the end of the pay period in which the overtime was worked or within a longer period, not exceeding 12 months, as agreed upon in writing by the employee and the employer.

If the employee does not take the time off in lieu of pay before leaving the job, the employer must pay them for the overtime within 30 days of the end of employment. Further, should the employee’s daily and weekly overtime hours differ, the employer must pay them for the greater of the two amounts.  

What are Overtime Exceptions in Canada?

For certain classes of employees, regulations set out modifications to or exemptions from overtime or when overtime hours start, including drivers in the trucking industry, commission salespersons in the broadcasting industry, commission-paid salespeople in the banking industry, and employees on ships in the West Coast shipping industry.

Right to Decline Overtime

Employees have the right to decline overtime work for family responsibilities concerning the health or care of their family members, or the education of family members under 18 years old. However, before refusing overtime, employees must make an effort to address these responsibilities in another way. If these responsibilities still need to be met during the overtime period, then the employee can refuse the overtime. It is not permissible to refuse overtime work if it is necessary due to unforeseeable circumstances that pose serious threats to life, health, safety, property, or normal operation of the employer’s establishment.

What are the Maximum Work Hours in Canada?

Usually, the weekly limit for working hours is 48 hours. Employees who are engaged in both an unpaid student internship (for fulfilling their educational program requirements) and paid employment for the same employer are restricted to a maximum of 10 hours per day or 48 hours per week. There may be exceptional situations where such employees can exceed the maximum weekly hours, such as emergency work, under an excess hour permit, under an averaging plan, and under a modified work schedule. It must be noted that there are some requirements for creating, changing, or canceling a modified work schedule for one employee or a group of employees. Employers must provide their employees or employed student interns with an advanced notice of work schedule, and an advanced notice of a shift change in writing.   

Canada Time Off/Break Laws

What Laws are there on Break and Rest Period in Canada?

Employees, subject to the Exemptions from and Modifications to Hours of Work Provisions Regulations, have the right to a break and a rest period. During every 5 consecutive hours of work, employees are entitled to an unpaid break of no less than 30 minutes. If the employee is required to remain available during the break, they must pay be paid for it. Moreover, employees are entitled to a continuous rest period of at least 8 hours between work periods or shifts.

There are 3 kinds of breaks stipulated by the Canada Labour Code. These are:

  • 30-minute Break: Employees have the right to an unpaid break of at least 30 minutes for every continuous period of 5 hours of work. This break must be granted in one uninterrupted period and cannot be divided into smaller segments. However, certain professionals and managers may not be eligible for this entitlement. If the employee is required to be available during the break, such as to tend to calls, they must receive compensation for that period. Nonetheless, there may be situations where the employer may postpone or cancel this break, such as in cases of imminent or serious threats to the life, health, or safety of a person, damage to property, or interference with the normal operation of the employer’s establishment, which they could not have reasonably anticipated.
  • Medical Breaks: Employees have the right to take unpaid breaks for any medical reason. If an employee needs to take such medical breaks, they must provide their employer with a written request along with a certificate from a healthcare practitioner. The certificate must indicate the start and end dates of the period when the medical breaks are required, as well as the frequency and duration of each break.
  • Nursing Breaks: Nursing employees have the right to take unpaid breaks when necessary to nurse or express milk.

In addition, there is a minimum duration of rest between work periods or shifts:

  • 8-hour Rest Period Between Shifts: Employees have the right to an uninterrupted rest period of at least 8 hours between each shift or work period, but this entitlement may not apply to managers and specific professionals. It should be noted that there may be situations where the employer may require employees to work beyond their scheduled hours, even if it reduces the rest period below the 8-hour minimum. This can be done in unforeseeable circumstances that present an imminent or serious threat to the safety, health, or life of a person, damage to or loss of property, or serious disruption to the employer’s establishment.

New regulations related to work hours are expected to modify or exempt some employees and impact break schedules. These can be found in the Labour Program Forward Regulatory Plan: 2022 to 2024.  

What are Canada Leave, Vacation, and Holiday Laws?

In Canada, the regulation of leave is primarily the responsibility of the federal government, with the provinces and territories having some jurisdiction over certain aspects of leave. The federal government sets minimum standards for leave entitlements under the Canada Labour Code providing for various types of leave. Each province and territory also has its own employment standards legislation that sets out minimum standards for leave entitlements for employees in sectors that fall under their jurisdiction. In addition to these minimum standards, many employers offer more generous leave policies as a way to attract and retain employees. These policies may provide for longer periods of leave, additional types of leave, or other benefits to support employees during their time away from work.

Employers must inform their employees, upon their written request, of any job or training opportunities or promotions that become available while they are on leave. Additionally, the employee’s seniority will continue to accumulate while they are away. Employers are required by law to provide certain mandatory benefits to their employees, including annual vacation days, sick leave, critical illness leave, maternity and paternity leave, as well as making contributions to the Canadian Pension Plan and employment insurance contributions.

During leave and in most cases, employees’ pension, health, and disability benefits will continue as long as they make the required contributions. Employers must also contribute at least the same amount they would if the employee were not on leave. If no contributions are made, then this rule does not apply. Failure to pay contributions during leave does not affect employment status, which will be considered the same when employees return to work for the purpose of calculating future benefits. It’s important to note that pension, health, and disability benefits are not applicable to all types of leave.

The Canada Labour Code offers unpaid and paid leaves to employees working in federally regulated workplaces, which include:

  • Maternity-related Reassignment and Leave (Paid and Unpaid) – Employees who are pregnant or nursing are allowed by the Canada Labour Code to request modifications or reassignment of their job if continuing to do their current work poses a risk to their health, the health of their unborn child, or the health of their child. Employees must provide a certificate from a healthcare practitioner indicating how long the risk will likely last and what activities/conditions they should avoid. The employer must consult with the employee and, where reasonably practicable, modify their job functions or reassign them to another position. Employees will continue to hold their job and receive the same wages and benefits attached to it during the modification or reassignment. This leave is paid while the employer is examining the request.
  • Maternity Leave (Unpaid) – Pregnant employees are entitled to take up to 17 weeks of unpaid maternity leave, which can be taken starting 13 weeks before the expected date of birth and ending 17 weeks after the actual birth date. Employees must provide their employer with a certificate confirming their pregnancy and give them written notice of the length of their leave at least 4 weeks before starting it. If the child isn’t born during the 17 weeks of leave, the leave is extended until the birth. Employees don’t have to take maternity leave unless the employer can prove that they can’t perform an essential function of their job. 
  • Parental Leave (Unpaid) – Employed natural or adoptive parents have access to up to 63 weeks of parental leave. If both parents work for federally regulated employers, they can share the leave to access an additional 8 weeks, for parental leave of a total of 71. This leave can be taken anytime during a 78-week period from the birth or adoption of the child. Employees need to provide their employer with written notice of the leave at least 4 weeks before starting it, stating the leave duration. The leave is unpaid, but employees may have access to greater leave benefits under their collective agreements or employment contracts. If the child is hospitalised during the leave, employees may interrupt it and resume when they return to work, with reinstatement guaranteed by their employer.
  • Compassionate Care Leave (Unpaid) – Employees have the right to take up to 28 weeks of compassionate care leave during a 52-week period to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition that could lead to their death. The leave can start during the week when the healthcare practitioner signs the certificate, examines the gravely ill family member, or when the family member becomes gravely ill, if the healthcare practitioner is able to identify that date. The leave ends after the 28 weeks period, when the family member no longer requires care, or after the 52-week period expires. If two or more employees need to care for the same family member, they can share the leave, but the total amount of leave taken cannot exceed 28 weeks. Employees can take the leave related to critical illness consecutively to care for the same person if they are eligible, but they cannot take compassionate care leave if another employee is taking leave related to critical illness for the same family member. The Code does not require employers to provide paid compassionate care leave.
  • Leave Related to Critical Illness (Unpaid) – Employees who have a critically ill family member who is either a child under the age of 18 or an adult are entitled to take up to 37 weeks of leave within a 52-week period to provide care or support to the child, and up to 17 weeks of leave within a 52-week period to provide care or support to the adult. The leave can begin either on the week the certificate is issued or on the day the health care practitioner certifies that the child or adult is critically ill. If while the employee is on leave, the child or adult dies, then the leave ends on the last day of that week. Employees who have more than one critically ill child can take separate leaves of 37 weeks for each affected child. Paid leave related to critical illness is not provided for by the Code.
  • Leave Related to Child Death or Disappearance (Unpaid) – Employees with a child under 25 years old who is missing or has died due to a possible crime under the Criminal Code can take a leave of up to 104 weeks. The employee must establish that the child has died, and that death was the result of a probable crime. The leave starts on the day the child is found deceased and ends 104 weeks after that day. If a child’s body is found after an employee has already taken a leave related to the death of a child, they are not entitled to a new leave. For a missing child, the leave starts on the day of the disappearance and if the child is found, it ends 14 days after the day on which the child is found. If the child is found during the 104-week period, the leave must end no later than the end of the 104-week period. To be eligible for this leave, the employer must, among other requirements, be legally the child’s parent or guardian, have decision-making responsibility, or have custody of the child. These requirements may very by province. If the child was 14 years or older at the time of the crime and likely participated in the crime, or if the employee is charged with the crime, they are not eligible for this leave. This leave is not paid, but employees may be eligible for Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime and financial assistance through the Federal Income Support for Parents of Murdered or Missing Children grant.
  • Personal Leave (Paid and Unpaid) – Employees can take up to 5 days of personal leave each calendar year for various reasons related to themselves or a family member, such as health obligations, education-related duties towards family members under 18, citizenship ceremony attendance, or regulation-prescribed situations. Employees can take this leave over multiple periods, but the employer can require that each period is at least one day long. Employers can ask for supporting documents about why the leave is needed within 15 days after the employee’s return to work and employees must provide such documents if attainable. The first 3 days of this leave are paid when the employee has 3 consecutive months of continuous employment with the same employer.
  • Leave for Victims of Family Violence (Paid and Unpaid) – Workers who have experienced family violence or parents whose child has experienced family violence have the right to take up to 10 days off per year. This is to engage in activities such as seeking medical attention for oneself or child, obtaining services from organisations that support victims of family violence, receiving counseling, temporarily or permanently relocating, seeking legal or law enforcement assistance, or participating in any civil or criminal legal proceedings. The leave can be taken in multiple periods, but the employer may require each period to be at least one day. Employees must provide their employers with written notice as soon as possible and let them know how long they plan to be away as well as inform them of any change in this duration in writing. Employers may ask employees to provide supporting documents within 15 days of their return to work to explain the reason for the leave, and if attainable, employees should comply. However, if employees are accused of an infraction related to family violence or if it seems likely that they committed an act of violence, they are not eligible for this leave. The first 5 days of this leave are paid when the employee has 3 consecutive months of continuous employment with the same employer
  • Leave for Traditional Aboriginal Practices (Unpaid) – Aboriginal workers, who are individuals who identify as Indian, Inuit, or Métis, who have been continuously employed for at least three months are entitled to take up to 5 days of leave per calendar year. This leave can be used to participate in traditional Aboriginal practices, such as fishing, hunting, harvesting, and other activities as specified by regulations. Employees can take this leave in multiple periods, but the employer may require each period to be at least one day. The employer may request documentation proving that the employee is of Aboriginal descent up to 15 days after the employee’s return to work, and if possible, employees should comply. The Code does not require employers to provide paid leave for traditional Aboriginal practices.
  • Leave for Court or Jury Duty (Unpaid) – Employees have the right to take unpaid leave for the duration needed to participate in a legal proceeding as a witness, juror, or candidate in a jury selection process. To take this leave, employees must provide their employer with written notice and the employer may also request supporting documents.
  • Bereavement Leave (Paid and Unpaid) – Employees who experience the death of an immediate family member are entitled to up to 10 days of bereavement leave. If the employee is already on compassionate care leave or leave related to critical illness and the family member they are caring for passes away, they can also take bereavement leave. This leave can be taken in one or two periods, starting from the day of the family member’s death and ending six weeks after the funeral, burial, or memorial service. Employees must provide their employer with written notice as soon as possible, specifying the start date and duration of the leave. If more time is needed, employees may ask for an extension, and this extension must be provided in writing. The first 3 days of this leave are paid when the employee has 3 consecutive months of continuous employment with the same employer.
  • Medical Leave (Unpaid) – Employees in Canada have medical leave protection that allows them to take up to 27 weeks of leave for various reasons such as illness, injury, organ or tissue donation, attending medical appointments, or quarantine. Upon return to work, the employer may assign the employee to a different job position if they are no longer able to perform the functions of their previous job.
  • Medical Leave with Pay (New as of December 1, 2022) –  Employees have the right to up to 10 days of paid medical leave each year. This leave can be taken for reasons such as illness or injury, organ or tissue donation, attending medical appointments, or being in quarantine. Employees can only take this leave on days that the employer schedules them to work or expects them to be available for work. Employees must be paid a regular rate as each day during usual work hours. Employees can take this leave in one or more periods, but employers could request each period to be at least one day long. To earn medical leave with pay, employees need to complete a 30-day qualifying period of continuous employment with their employer. After completing this period, they will earn the first three days of medical leave with pay. After that, they will earn one additional day at the beginning of each month after they complete one month of continuous employment, up to a maximum of 10 days per year. Any unused days of medical leave with pay will be credited to the employee at the beginning of the following year, up to a maximum of 10 days.  
  • Leave Related to COVID-19 (Unpaid) Repealed May 7, 2022 – Employees on COVID-19-related leave (starting on or before May 7, 2022) can have specific entitlements depending on the type of leave they were granted, such as Leave related to COVID-19 for up to 6 weeks, and Leave related to COVID-19 for up to 44 weeks. Employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19 also have access to various other leaves, including up to 5 days of personal leave, up to 17 weeks of unpaid medical leave for various illnesses or 16 weeks if not unable to work due to quarantine, up to 28 weeks of compassionate care leave, and up to 37 weeks of leave related to a child’s critical illness or 17 weeks to care for an adult. 
  • Leave of Absence for Members of the Reserve Force (Unpaid) – Employees who have worked continuously for the same employer for at least three months are entitled to take a leave of absence from their civilian job for various military-related reasons, such as participating in a designated operation or military training. Reservists (who are individuals who are members of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve) are entitled to take up to 24 months of leave in a 60-month period, except during a national emergency as defined by the Emergencies Act. However, the Labour Program may deny the leave if it causes undue hardship to the employer or poses a risk to public health and safety. This leave is not paid.

What are the Laws on Annual Vacations and General Holidays in Canada?

The Canada Labour Code sets the minimum standards for federally regulated employees in terms of annual vacation and general holidays. However, if a collective agreement or work arrangement provide benefits and rights that are at least as good as those set by the Code and include a third-party dispute resolution provision, these standards may not apply.

What are the Laws on Annual Vacations in Canada?

Federally regulated employees are entitled to a minimum of 2 weeks of vacation per year of employment after completing 1 year of continuous employment with the same employer. After 5 consecutive years of employment with the same employer, they are entitled to at least 3 weeks of vacation annually. Finally, after 10 consecutive years of employment with the same employer, they are entitled to at least 4 weeks of vacation annually. 

Employees may generally take their vacation at a time that has been mutually agreed upon with their employer or at a time set by the employer, provided the vacation starts no later than 10 months after the end of each year of employment. Employers must give employees at least 2 weeks’ notice of when the vacation will begin when the employer chooses the vacation period. The vacation pay must be made up to 14 days before the vacation starts. Alternatively, if this is not feasible or if it is the customary practice in the workplace, then payment can be made during or immediately after the vacation.

Employees who take a leave with pay experience no change in their employment status and continue to accrue benefits as if they were working. They are also entitled to earn vacation pay and accumulate vacation time during the leave period. However, if employees take a leave without pay, their seniority will still accumulate, but their vacation pay will only be based on their wages earned during the year of employment. Taking a leave does not affect their date of eligibility for additional weeks of vacation or an increase in vacation pay.

Vacation pay in Canada  is determined based on a percentage of the gross wages (which includes all forms of payment received for performed work, except for tips and other gratuities) the employee earned during the year of employment. If the vacation is for 2 weeks, vacation pay is calculated at 4% of earnings. If the vacation is for 3 weeks, vacation pay is calculated at 6% of earnings. Finally, if the vacation is for 4 weeks, vacation pay is calculated at 8% of earnings. A vacation pay calculator can be used to help figure out vacation entitlements. Employers are required to provide any vacation pay that employees have earned for the previously completed year of employment within 30 days after the end of their employment. Employees are also entitled to vacation pay for the current year of employment, even if it is only partially completed.

Employees have the option to waive, postpone, or split their vacation for a specific year of employment, provided they have a written agreement with their employer in order to do so. If both parties agree to a split vacation time, then employees must be paid a prorated portion of their vacation pay for each time they take a portion of their vacation. Vacation may also be interrupted or postponed if the employee needs to take any of the different types of leaves.  

What are the Laws on General Holidays in Canada?

As per the Canada Labour Code, a general holiday refers to a designated day on which all employees, including managers and professionals (members of the architectural, dental, engineering, legal or medical professions), are entitled to a day off with pay. Federally regulated employees are eligible for 10 paid general holidays per year:

Holiday Date
New Year’s Day January 1
Good Friday Friday before Easter Sunday
Victoria Day Monday on or preceding May 24
Canada Day July 1
Labour Day First Monday in September
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation September 30 (starting from 2021)
Thanksgiving Day Second Monday in October
Remembrance Day November 11
Christmas Day December 25
Boxing Day December 26

Certain general holidays that fall on a non-working day entitle employees to a holiday with pay on the working day immediately before or after the general holiday. These holidays are New Year’s Day, Canada Day, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Remembrance Day, Christmas Day, or Boxing Day. For any other general holiday not included in the aforementioned list that falls on a non-working day, employees will receive a holiday with pay added to their annual vacation, which can be taken at a time convenient to both the employee and employer.

Working on a general holiday is not prohibited by the Canada Labour Code, provided that employers follow the rules set for the compensation of their employees when they work on such days. Employees who are eligible for holiday pay and are required by their employer to work on a general holiday must be paid a minimum of 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for the time worked on that day. If managers and professionals are required to work on a general holiday, they will receive their regular pay rate but must receive a holiday with pay on another day. If the employee’s wages are not computed daily, hourly or by time, and their employer requires them to work on a general holiday, then they must be paid the average of the 20 days worked right before the general holiday (excluding overtime pay) and the employer must pay them the regular rate of pay along with the holiday pay for that day.

Employers have the option to replace a general holiday with another day for one or more employees, subject to certain conditions. If the employees are covered by a collective agreement, there must be a written agreement on the substitution between the employer, union, and employees. Individual employees not covered by a collective agreement must approve the substitution in writing if it applies only to them. If it applies to several employees, then at least 70% of the affected employees must agree to the substitution. A substitution notice must be posted by the employer for at least 30 days before the substitution takes effect. Employees may also, with their employer’s written authorisation, request to substitute a holiday with another day as part of their request for flexible work arrangements

General holiday pay is calculated based on the employee’s wage type. For most employees, it is equal to at least 1/20th of the wages earned, excluding overtime pay, wages earned in the 4-week period right before the week in which the general holiday falls. A general holiday pay calculator can help estimate employees’ entitlement and pay, but it may not be suitable for multi-employer longshoring. Part-time employees are entitled to receive pay for the same 10 general holidays as full-time employees. However, the holiday pay for part-time employees is adjusted based on the number of hours they work.

There are certain rules for general holiday pay when on leave. Employees who are on personal leave, leave for victims of family violence, or bereavement leave when a general holiday occurs are still entitled to receive general holiday pay. However, holiday pay for employees whose hourly work schedule is not consistent day to day or whose pay structure is not based on time worked is calculated based on the average daily earnings (excluding overtime) for 20 days immediately preceding the first day of their leave period. For employees who have a collective agreement, a different calculation method may apply and should be agreed upon.

General holiday pay for employees paid by commission (in part or in whole), who have completed 12 consecutive weeks of employment, is at least 1/60th of their wages (excluding overtime pay) earned in the 12-week period immediately prior to the holiday week. For employees who have not completed 12 consecutive weeks of employment, the holiday pay is at least 1/20th of the wages (excluding overtime pay) earned in the 4-week period right before the general holiday.

General holiday pay for Longshore workers (who are workers often working for multiple employers within one pay period and falling under Multi-employer Employment) is 1/20th of the total number of hours worked (excluding overtime) within the four weeks before the holiday, with these hours multiplied by their basic rate of wages. For employees who work for an employer’s association and perform work for a non-member employer, the non-member employer is responsible for paying them 3.5% of their basic rate of wages, multiplied by the hours worked on each payday, in lieu of general holidays. If such employees work on a general holiday, the employer must pay them no less than 1.5 times their basic rate of wages for the hours worked.

There are three payment options for continuous operation employees working on general holidays. This type of employment refers to fields whose operation runs without stopping for holidays or weekends and does not follow a fixed Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule. Such employees, when required to work on a general holiday, must either be paid either 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for the actual hours worked on the general holiday, in addition to paying general holiday pay, or they should be paid for actual hours worked on the general holiday with the employer having to also provide a holiday with pay on a mutually convenient day, or they must be paid for the first day they do not work after the general holiday, if their collective agreement allows it. It is also important to note that employees are not entitled to general holiday pay if their employer schedules them to work on a general holiday but they do not report to work on that day. Further, for employees who support the continuous operation during normal weekly business hours, the general provisions apply.   


What are Canada Child Labour Laws?

Employees who are below 17 years old can work in Canada as long as they are not required by provincial law to attend school, the work is not likely to harm their health or safety, and they are not working underground in a mine or any employment prohibited for young workers under the Explosives Regulations, 2013, Nuclear Safety and Control Act and Regulations, or Canada Shipping Act, 2001. Additionally, they should not work between 11 pm on one day and 6 am the next day. 

The minimum wage also applies to workers under 17, but if their province or territory has a minimum hourly rate based on age, they will receive the highest of those rates, either the provincial or federal rate.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.