Canadian Employment Law &
Provincial Employment Standards

In Canada, Canadian employment law can be distinguished from Canadian labour law. In some countries, one labour and employment law regulates both the individual employment relationships, as well as the collective bargaining relationships.

Here, the focus of employment legislation in Canada is on regulating the employment relationship of an individual employee and an employer.

What's the Difference? 

Canadian Labour Law known as the Canada Labour Code, on the other hand, narrowly focuses on collective bargaining, and the regulations governing the relationships between the employers, and their employees who are represented by a union.

The Canada Labour Code is enacted by Parliament, with each of the provinces having their own acts, named, either,

  • Industrial Relations Act, New Brunswick
  • Labour Relations Act, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Labour Relations Code, British Columbia, Alberta
  • Labour Code, Quebec, Federal
  • Labour Act, Prince Edward Island, or
  • Trade Union Act, Saskatchewan.
Law Library

Canadian Employment Standards

Canadian Employment Law covers the "common law" aka "judge made law" on the "master- servant relationship". Its focus is on employment issues dealing with, wrongful dismissals, minimum standards of employment, occupational health and safety, compensation, and human rights.

These laws falls under the jurisdiction of the individual provinces, and are regulated by separate provincial statutes such as: Employment Standards, or Labour Codes.

Employment legislation in Canada is necessary as only about a third of the workers in Canada belong to a union, and thereby have some form of legal rights regarding employment.

What about the rest of the workers? They also need some form of legislation to protect certain of their basic rights of employment. There are employment issues that are not easily dealt with in the workplace, such as, wage-payment protection, wrongful dismissals, human rights, racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and religious discrimination, etc.

Employment Law

Employment Law and the Employment Relationship

Employment law is central to the employment relationship, which is the contractual relationship between the employer and the employee. It is a field of law that is constantly undergoing change.

There are growing demands for legal decisions to be rendered regarding employment issues surrounding hiring, privacy, discrimination, harassment, and employee termination. Sexual harassment and discrimination (e.g. age and gender) litigation appear to be on the increase. Other issues such as disability discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination are also gaining prominence in the workplace.

Impact of Free Trade

With an increase in free-trade agreements being negotiated between governments, pressure is being exerted on the workforces in the home countries with inroads being made which challenge the power of unions, threatening workers' rights, employee wages and benefits, pensions and health benefits, plus the threat of high-paying jobs being outsourced to countries with cheaper labour costs.

These pressures on the workforce are leading to changes in the labour laws and employment standards which were enacted to protect workers.

Global Economy

The focus and shift to global economies have become high profile issues. This has lead to employment law becoming extremely important as it will have a direct impact on businesses, management and employees.

Labour law is also placing more focus on employee complaints dealing with discrimination and employment regulation.

Labour Laws and Management

Managers are constantly being confronted with personnel issues involving discrimination, harassment, conflict, termination, and various other labour challenges. Therefore it is important that the human resources managers and others responsible for employee relations have a comprehensive and practical knowledge of employment law as it relates to their industry.

Laws relating to employment have been subjected to a number of substantial changes over the past decade. In addition, traditional labour law has been changed to include new legislation dealing with privacy, sexual orientation, and drug testing in the workplace.

Employers and human resources managers are expected to keep current with new labour laws and court decisions in order to ensure compliance with all laws relating to employment.

With such a vast accumulation of labour laws, it's not surprising that many employers are overwhelmed by so much necessary legal requirements in employment.

It is important that employers become more informed about the various laws that impact on their employment field.

Until recent years, labour law has been one of the lesser practice areas of the legal system. This has now changed and the number of cases involving labour law have been increasing at an unprecedented pace, with the courts becoming bogged down with the number of cases before it, leading to long delays. These long delays have led to the ongoing search for expedited methods for dealing labour law issues.

Canadian Employment Law

In Canada, laws covering employment are covered under the:
Canadian Employment Standards legislation and the Provincial Employment Standards.

Those outline the federal, provincial, and territorial provisions, regarding employment standards which regulates:

  • the minimum employment age
  • minimum wages
  • equal pay
  • hours of work and overtime pay
  • the weekly work-day
  • parental leave
  • general holidays with pay
  • annual vacations with pay, and
  • termination of employment

For help regarding the laws dealing with employment in Canada, contact us.