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Employment Rights in Canada

Updated: May 5th, 2023

If you are planning to work in Canada, you're probably caught up in finding out as much as you can about in-demand jobs and Canadian work permits. While doing your research, it's a good idea to look at employee rights in the country to ensure you know what to expect from Canadian companies.

The Canadian government believes that workers have the right to be employed in safe environments free of discrimination. Therefore, it has several laws and programs in place to protect the rights of Canadians and foreign workers. We've compiled a breakdown of everything you need to know about workers' rights in Canada.

The Canadian Human Rights Act

The Canadian Human Rights Act was implemented to ensure that discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, and other grounds has no place in the workplace and society. Additionally, Canada's Employment Equity Act and the Federal Contractors Program order employers in Canada to actively work toward improving job prospects for specific groups in the nation.

Both the labor rights and responsibilities of employers and employees within federally regulated sectors fall under the Canada Labour Code. The rights of foreign workers in Canada are also protected under federal or provincial/territorial labor laws.

Your Rights as a Foreign Worker in Canada

As mentioned above, Canada's laws protect all workers in Canada - including foreigners. So when you become employed in this land of maple leaves, you'll have rights such as:

  • Receiving remuneration for the service you provide
  • Working in a space that is safe
  • Keeping your passport or work permit in your possession

Federal labor and employment laws govern:

  • Federal government
  • Banking institutions
  • Logistics companies
  • Telecommunication establishments
  • Federal government-owned businesses

You'll find that provincial and territorial laws cover the majority of other occupations. Each Canadian province or territory has an office dealing with labor and employment laws. Here, you'll find information on employment matters such as fair remuneration, work hours, breaks, and conditions in the workplace.

As a foreign worker, you can freely contact or visit such an office, should the need arise, without backlash or threats from your employer. Check provincial and territorial employment standards offices for the location of these offices.

Canadian Employment Agreements

If you hold an employer-specific work permit, your company must provide you with an employment agreement. The document will have to be signed by you and your employer and must state the following:

  • Your job description
  • Conditions of your employment
  • Maximum amount of hours to be completed per week
  • Your total cost to company
  • Salary deductions
  • Laws concerning work hours and overtime (this will go according to the region you work in)

Make sure you keep a copy of your agreement for your records. This agreement should serve as a constant guide or reference for your period of employment. You and your employer must always adhere to this agreement. shoukld there be disagreements about work details in time to come, having a copy at hand may help you.

Contact your local employment or labor standards office to learn more about employment contracts.

Your Rights Should You Lose a Job

If you lose your job while in Canada, your boss will have to notify you before your last day of work or pay you out for this period. This type of payment is referred to as termination pay.

Things to Note

  • Your boss won't have to warn you of your termination if the reason for this is due to serious misconduct on your part or unnecessary absenteeism.
  • If your employment is only for a fixed period or a particular position-specific job, your boss won't have to give you notice once your contract wraps up.
  • The rules about notice of termination are also set by each province and territory.
  • If your employer disregards the law when they let you go, you can lodge a complaint against them at your local employment or labor standards office.


An employer isn't obligated to provide you with accommodation. This is only a must if you are a temporary farm worker in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.

If accommodation is on offer, your boss could deduct the cost of this from your wages. In most provinces, the amount they are allowed to charge for meals and accommodation is limited. Deductions can only be made if they are stated in your employment agreement.

Health and Safety

All workers in Canada have the right to a safe and healthy workplace. The Canadian government has made sure that there are laws to keep workers out of dangerous situations.

You will have to look at the laws established by Provincial, Territorial, and federal governments, as each has specific measures and regulations to promote well-being and safety at work.

How safe is your workplace? Here are some questions you can mull over to evaluate your work situation:

  • Did I receive proper and sufficient training for this job?
  • Has my employer provided the correct safety equipment to carry out my duties safely?
  • Does performing my duties make me feel compromised?
  • Are there hazardous materials in my immediate environment?

It is important to report an unsafe workplace. To do so, call your local employment or labor standards office.

Saying No to Duties That Can Put Your Life in Danger

You cannot be forced to do dangerous work. Your employer has the responsibility to investigate any danger. According to Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada IRCC, you are allowed to refuse to carry out duties until:

  • All parties are in agreement that all possible hazards have been removed
  • You are at ease knowing that there is no longer any danger
  • Government officials confirm when it is safe to do the work

Illness or Injury on Duty

If you get sick or are injured while at work, notify your manager immediately, then seek medical assistance. Your employer will have to call in a medical professional to examine you on-site or:

  • Allow for time off to go to a doctor
  • Give you a telephone to call an ambulance
  • Give you information on obtaining medical assistance
  • Assist with finding a medical practitioner

Note: You are allowed to consult with a medical practitioner in private, without your boss. You'll find that almost all Canadian provinces and territories give workers access to workers' compensation benefits. This will help you give in case of an illness or injury on duty. Your boss cannot deduct from your salary for this.

Know Your Rights as a Worker in Canada

Remember that in Canada, the Canadian government also protects your rights as a foreign worker. Do as much research as you can on this topic to avoid any chance of exploitation or danger. You are fully entitled to contact the labor office in your province, should the need arise, without backlash or threats from your employer.


What Rights do Farm Workers Have in Canada

Certain farm workers in Canada are given special rights via the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.

How do I Report Abuse by an Employer as a Temporary Foreign Worker?

If you experience abuse as a temporary foreign worker, you must report it to the IRCC.

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