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Employment standards

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To ensure that employees are treated fairly, the federal and provincial governments have established employment standards for:

  • minimum wage
  • annual vacations and other types of leave
  • public (statutory) holidays
  • hours of work, including standard hours, overtime and emergency requirements

If your business is in a federally regulated industry, you need to comply with federal employment standards. The industry sectors that are regulated federally include:

  • banks
  • marine shipping, ferry and port services
  • air transportation, including airports, aerodromes and airlines
  • railway and road transportation that involves crossing provincial or international borders
  • canals, pipelines, tunnels and bridges (crossing provincial borders)
  • telephone, telegraph and cable systems
  • radio and television broadcasting
  • grain elevators, feed and seed mills
  • uranium mining and processing
  • businesses dealing with the protection of fisheries as a natural resource
  • many First Nation activities
  • most federal crown corporations
  • private businesses necessary to the operation of a federal act

If your business is not in one of these sectors, you have to comply with provincial or territorial employment standards.

If your employees are unionized, there may be additional standards set out in their collective agreement.


As an employer, you are required to pay your employees at least the minimum wage established for the province or territory. For most occupations, there is one hourly minimum wage that applies; however, there are some exceptions for young workers and people in specific occupations. When paying your employees, you will also need to subtract the taxes and other deductions and remit them to the government.


There are provincial and territorial standards that set out the number of hours an employee can be required to work per day and per week. The standards on hours of work also set out rules on things like breaks for eating and rest periods. These standards apply to most employees and most situations. However, there are some exceptions and specific rules for overtime, emergencies and certain professions or job functions.


In most cases, you will need to give your employees paid days off on public holidays. The list of public holidays and the specific rules that apply to them are set out in provincial and territorial labour standards.


As an employer, you will also have to follow provincial and territorial labour standards relating to personal leave. The types of leave and exact terms used to describe them vary across the country, but generally include things like vacation, sick leave, bereavement leave and leave to take care of sick family members.


All provinces and territories in Canada give parents the right to take leave from work when they become parents. In addition to being able to take time off, your employees may be eligible for benefits through the Employment Insurance Program (EI).

(Source: Canada Business Ontario)

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