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Canada - Employment Terms and Conditions

The terms and conditions of employment in Canada vary according to province or territory. Some areas have many regulations for this but some do not and expats should investigate the various terms that are applicable in their area.

All areas do have a standard working week and a maximum working week. These define the hours that a person is permitted to work during the week. Most provinces also limit the number of hours each day that a person is allowed to work. The regulations allow the employer to set the hours within the limits of the law. In some areas the working week is set at 35 hours, in some it is as high as 40. The maximum working week is usually set at 48 hours and most provinces will have a limit of 12 hours for the working day, although most people will work around 8 hours per day.

In most provinces overtime hours are paid at time and a half. If a person has to work more than 12 hours in a day (where permitted) the extra is paid at double time in some provinces. New Brunswick and Newfoundland have an overtime rate which is set at time and a half based on minimum wage, rather than the wage of the worker in question. It is also permissible for the worker to negotiate time off in lieu instead of taking paid overtime.

Most provinces have regulations that state a worker should be given a minimum of 24 hours notice before a change is made to shifts. Hours of work need to take into account lunch breaks and other rest periods. A worker is also entitled to at least one day a week off work and for most workers this is a Sunday, but this is variable depending upon the type of work that is being done. An employer does not have to pay a worker for a meal break, unless the worker is expected to remain at their workstation for the duration. After 5 hours of work a worker is entitled to a half hour break. An employer is not obliged to provide other breaks in addition to the meal break but if they do this is considered to be part of the paid work.

Paid leave usually starts at 10 working days. An employee can increase this by remaining with the company and accruing more leave. Many workers get 15 or 20 working days paid holiday a year. There are 10 national public holidays each year and provinces have their own days which vary. If you have a strong religious faith an employer is obliged to give you some time for religious holidays.

All provinces and territories have legislation regarding maternity leave. All legislation will give guidelines on when maternity leave will start and finish, although there is some flexibility for negotiation with employers. Those on maternity leave have the right to job protection, to guarantee that when the leave ends there is a job for them to return to. The amount of leave varies in each province.

All workers have the right to join a union and many workers have chosen to join one. There are specific unions for those who are working in different professions, such as teaching and the medical profession. There is no stigma attached to joining a union and the unions have traditionally been useful in negotiating with employers. As with unions in the UK, there are subscription fees to be paid.

There is no specific retirement age in Canada, although most people tend to retire around the age of 65. There are regulations about employers forcing workers to retire at a certain age and it is now illegal to do so. However, if you are working in a profession where physical fitness is essential such as police work, you may be required to retire at a certain point.

When you leave a job the notice period will vary depending upon how long you have been in the position. If you are still working your trial period the notice is usually one week. If you have been there longer you are normally required to give a minimum of one month. Longer notice periods are expected for those in senior management roles.

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