Employment standards 

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

  • Minimum wage
  • Annual vacations and other types of leave
  • Public (statutory) holidays
  • Hours of work, including standard hours, overtime and emergency requirements

Certain industries fall under federal regulations, while others must comply with provincial or territorial employment standards. If your employees are unionized, there may be additional standards set out in their collective agreement that go above and beyond what is required by law.

On this page:

General information on employment standards

These documents provide general information on all aspects of labour standards.

  • Provincial and Territorial Ministries of Labour

    If your business is not federally regulated, you must comply with labour standards specified by your provincial or territorial government.

  • Newfoundland and Labrador Employers' Council
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Get support on employer issues such as labour legislation, workers' compensation, occupational health and safety, regulations and standards.

  • Labour Relations Agency (Newfoundland and Labrador)
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Get information on labour standards, assistance with resolving workplace issues or help with collective agreements.

  • Labour Relations Agency — Frequently Asked Questions (Newfoundland and Labrador)
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador

    Find labour standards information for Newfoundland and Labrador, including minimum wages, deductions, working hours, vacation, and benefits.

  • Employment Standards (New Brunswick)
    Applies only to: New Brunswick

    Find out about employment rules, such as minimum wage, overtime pay, vacations with pay and sick leave.

  • Guide to the Labour Standards Code of Nova Scotia
    Applies only to: Nova Scotia

    Read this plain language version of the Labour Standards Code to learn about everything from overtime rules to notice requirements when an employee quits.

  • Employment rights
    Applies only to: Nova Scotia

    You and your employees have rights under Nova Scotia's Labour Standards Code. Learn the details.

  • Human resources (Quebec) in French only
    Applies only to: Québec

    Keep informed of your rights and responsibilities when hiring and managing employees, as well as when their employment ends.

  • Commission des normes du travail du Québec
    Applies only to: Québec

    If you are a business owner, you must familiarize yourself with and comply with Quebec labour standards and the acts and regulations governing them.

  • Employment Standards (Manitoba)
    Applies only to: Manitoba

    Make sure you understand your rights as a business owner and your responsibility to your employees regarding minimum wage, keeping records, dress code, termination, hours of work, general holidays and maternity/parental leave.

  • Federal labour standards (federally regulated employers)

    If you are a federally regulated employer, find out what your obligations are regarding wages, leave, hours of work, statutory holidays, termination and benefits.

  • Employment standards publications

    Order pamphlets that summarize the labour standards defined in the Canada Labour Code. You can also view the summaries online.

  • Employment standards — Permits and variances
    Applies only to: Saskatchewan

    As an employer, you need to get permission to deviate from the rules and regulations of the The Saskatchewan Employment Act.

  • Employment standards (Saskatchewan)
    Applies only to: Saskatchewan

    If you are a provincially-regulated employer, make sure you understand your obligations regarding wages, working hours, vacation, statutory holidays, termination, benefits and compliance.

  • Alberta employment standards
    Applies only to: Alberta

    Find rules regarding wages, hours of work, overtime, vacations and other leave, termination of employment, and employees under 18 years of age.

  • Accessibility Standard for Employment
    Applies only to: Ontario

    Ensure that your employee attraction, hiring and human resources practices meet Ontario accessible requirements.

  • Employment Standards Tool Kit for Employers
    Applies only to: Alberta

    If you are an employer in Alberta, find out how to comply with the Employment Standards Code and Regulation. You can get the kit in hard copy form or CD.

  • Employment standards (Yukon)
    Applies only to: Yukon

    Understand your responsibility to your employees concerning hours of work, vacation entitlement, and various types of leave.

Sector-specific employment standards

Wages and payroll

As an employer, you are required to pay your employees at least the minimum wage established for your 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 take off taxes and other deductions and remit them to the government.

To find out more about wages and payroll requirements, browse these resources:

Hours of work and overtime

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 for meals and break 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.

Public holidays

In most cases, you will need to pay your employees for public holidays. The list of public holidays and the specific rules regarding public holidays are set out in provincial and territorial labour standards.

Vacation and other types of personal leave

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: vacation leave, sick leave, bereavement leave and leave to take care of sick family members.

  • Leave (federally regulated employers)

    Learn about the leave options that federally regulated employers must make available to their employees.

  • Military Leave Policy

    Find out how to develop a military leave policy to support the training of reservists in your employment.

  • Leaves from work (Nova Scotia)
    Applies only to: Nova Scotia

    Find out about your obligations under the Nova Scotia Labour Code with regards to unpaid leaves of absence such as pregnancy, bereavement, and sick leave.

  • Vacation Time and Pay (Ontario)
    Applies only to: Ontario

    This document will help you understand your responsibilities with regard to providing vacation time for your employees in Ontario.

  • Personal emergency leave
    Applies only to: Ontario

    Learn what your responsibilities are as an employer, when providing employees with personal emergency leave.

  • Family Medical Leave (Ontario)
    Applies only to: Ontario

    Learn what your responsibilities are as an employer, when providing employees with family medical leave.

  • Employment Insurance special benefits for self-employed people

    Are you self-employed? Find out about benefits relating to maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care, and caring for critically ill children.

Maternity and parental leave

All provinces and territories in Canada give parents the right to take leave from work when they become parents. The exact amount of leave and type of leave that employees are entitled to may vary slightly by province or territory, but is generally:

  • 15 weeks of pregnancy/maternity leave (must be taken by the mother), plus 35 weeks of parental leave (can be used by either the mother or father, or split between both) for birth parents
  • 35 weeks of parental leave for adoptive parents

In addition to being able to take time off, your employees may be eligible for benefits through the Employment Insurance Program (for all provinces/territories except Quebec) or the Quebec Parental Insurance Program.

EI or QPIP benefits only cover a portion of your employee's usual salary when on leave. As an employer, you can choose to add to those benefits. While this is not required, offering additional maternity or parental leave benefits, like other types of benefits offered by employers, can help you recruit and retain top talent.

You need to issue your employee a Record of Employment at the beginning of the leave period.

Federally regulated industries

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

  • 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