The Rights of Workers and Employees under Employment Law

Employment legislation protects the rights of workers in Canada and covers public holidays, vacation pay, minimum wage, and overtime pay. Other areas include family medical leave, pregnancy leave, and termination notice.

Minimum Wage
The minimum wage and hours of work vary. In Alberta, for example, the minimum wage is $9.95/hour, with a maximum of 12 hours per day allowed. The minimum wage is $10.25/hour in British Columbia and $11.00/hour in Nunavut. Quebec has set the minimum wage at $10.15/hour and Manitoba at $10.45/hour. Paid public holidays in Manitoba are Christmas Day, Thanksgiving, Labour Day, Canada Day, Victoria Day, and others. All territories and provinces have legislation that covers areas such as termination of employment, parental and pregnancy leave, emergency leave, overtime, and others.

Employments Standards
Employment standards guarantee the rights of workers and employees and cover severance provisions, sick days, hours of work, and more. Each territory and province in Canada has its own employment standards. Federal legislation covers employees who are working for government agencies and institutions. The minimum standards cover the following areas:

• Employment compliance
• Sexual harassment
• Deductions and pay
• Dismissal
• Layoff
• Termination
• Leave
• Vacation
• Hours of work

Employment law also covers labor practices, collective bargaining, certification of unions, and other areas. Different acts and regulations have been adopted, including the Government Employees' Compensation Act, Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act, Public Service Employment Act, and Holidays Act. A number of acts and regulations focus on areas such as fair wages, gas and oil occupational safety, maritime occupational health, and others. The rights of employees in the public service sector are also spelled out.

The Employment Equity Act protects the rights of visible minorities, Aboriginal people, persons with disabilities, and women. Members of visible minorities are individuals who are non-white and non-Caucasian. Employers must ensure that there are no employment barriers against minorities, including unfair and discriminatory practices and policies.

Employees are protected against discriminatory treatment due to:

• Disability
• Marital status
• Age
• Sex
• Race
• Ethnicity
• Religious affiliation
• Sexual orientation

The law offers protection against harassment and discrimination. Discrimination is against the law in all territories and provinces. Workers are protected from discrimination based on political belief, creed, mental and physical disabilities, place of origin, national origin, and age. There are some exceptions for senior citizens and minors. Legislation varies from province to province. Additional protection may be offered based on social status, language, and other factors. Union members are also protected under human rights legislation. The rights of foreign workers and employees are protected as well. Canada has also signed international agreements such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Working conditions must be modified for persons with disabilities, for example, flexible work hours, hearing and visual aids, wheelchair access, and so on. Women and persons belonging to racial and ethnic minorities are protected against racial and sexual harassment. These regulations are spelled out in different human rights codes.

Workers’ Safety
Workplace safety and health is of paramount importance, and employment legislation protects employees and workers against safety hazards. All Canadian territories and provinces offer compensation in case of injury and accidents on the job.

Canadians who have lost their job can claim employment insurance benefits. They must submit information such as their salary, bank account details, address, and mother’s maiden name. Other details include employment information such as grounds for dismissal, address and name of employer, and social insurance number. Applicants are asked whether they are in a group layoff situation, work-sharing program, or apprenticeship program. They must submit supporting documentation, if required. Benefits are in the form of financial assistance for persons who care for a dependent or critically ill child, are pregnant, unemployed, or sick.