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Canada: Employee rights

Updating author: Sharaf Sultan, Sultan Lawyers
Original author: Miller Thomson

See the legal services provided by the author of International > Canada, including any discounts/offers for subscribers.


  • The federal jurisdiction and each of the 13 provinces and territories have their own employment standards legislation, which sets out employees' minimum rights in areas such as hours of work, overtime, annual leave, public holidays, and maternity, parental and other leave. (See General)
  • The federal jurisdiction and all 13 provinces and territories have statutory rules on hours of work and overtime pay. (See Hours of work)
  • All provinces and territories provide for unpaid rest breaks during the working day. (See Rest breaks and rest periods)
  • In some jurisdictions, there are restrictions on operating and working on Sundays. (See Sunday work)
  • All jurisdictions provide employees covered by employment standards legislation with an entitlement to paid annual leave. (See Paid annual leave)
  • All jurisdictions share five public holidays and provide for additional public holidays. (See Public holidays and special days)
  • All jurisdictions provide an entitlement for employees to take maternity leave (also known as pregnancy leave) in the period immediately before and after the birth of a child. (See Pregnancy and maternity rights)
  • All jurisdictions provide an entitlement for employees to take parental leave (also known as childcare leave), in addition to the maternity leave available for the mother, and this entitlement applies to both biological and adoptive parents. (See Parental leave)
  • Most jurisdictions provide employees with an entitlement to take short periods of unpaid leave to meet various family responsibilities or deal with other urgent personal matters. (See Family responsibility leave)
  • All jurisdictions have employment standards legislation that provides for unpaid "compassionate care leave" (known as "critical illness leave" in Ontario, Manitoba and the federal jurisdiction) to care for a family member who is dying. (See Compassionate care leave)
  • All jurisdictions provide an entitlement to bereavement leave in the event of a death in the family and, in most cases, bereavement leave is unpaid. (See Bereavement leave)
  • In all jurisdictions, eligible employees who are members of the Canadian Forces (that is, the army, navy and air force) reserves are entitled to unpaid leave to take part in operations. (See Reservist leave)
  • All jurisdictions provide employees with entitlements to take unpaid leave for some reasons other than maternity, parenthood, family responsibilities, compassionate care, bereavement and service in the military reserves. (See Other leave)
  • Some jurisdictions provide employees with an entitlement to domestic violence leave. (See Leave for victims of violence)
  • Generally, employment standards legislation in all jurisdictions applies equally to part-time and full-time employees. (See Part-time workers)
  • The rules applicable to casual workers in the private sector vary from province to province. (See Casual workers)
  • Employment contracts may be concluded for a fixed term, but are presumed to be in force for an indefinite period, unless proven otherwise. (See Fixed-term workers)
  • Temporary help agency assignment employees have the same rights as other employees.  (See Temporary agency workers)
  • There are no federal or provincial laws that regulate remote working. (See Remote working)
  • In the event of the transfer of a business or part of a business, in the form of a sale of assets, the employment relationships of the employees employed by the former owner in the operations being sold do not transfer automatically to the new owner. (See Transfers of undertakings)
  • In the event of their employer filing for bankruptcy or becoming subject to a receivership, the pay-related claims of employees in all jurisdictions are protected by the federal Wage Earner Protection Program. (See Insolvency of employer)
  • It is good practice for employers to have internal procedures in place to deal with disciplinary issues, and the employer and employee must follow the terms of a grievance procedure included in a collective agreement, where one exists. (See Grievance and disciplinary procedures)
  • Many jurisdictions do not have specific data protection legislation that applies to private-sector employment, with the exceptions being the federal jurisdiction, Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Quebec and Yukon. (See Data and privacy protection)
  • Employees may have a right to disconnect outside work hours. (See Right to disconnect)