HR Solutions & Employee Relations in Canada with IRIS

IRIS HR consulting has experience helping businesses grow in Canada. Without expert guidance, it can otherwise be risky and costly to leave local laws and legislation open to interpretation. For a scalable, compliant operation, IRIS can manage your HR in Canada to help businesses hire, recruit, and pay staff overseas in new, unfamiliar countries. As a popular destination for businesses, IRIS can navigate local barriers – from culture to compliance – to arrive at a rewarding opportunity for your business to thrive in this exciting marketplace. 

Take your business to Canada with IRIS HR Consultancy.


Global expansion in Canada

As one of the largest countries in the world, and one that’s geographically interconnected, Canada has enjoyed its role as a host to, and stimulus for, foreign investment from around the globe. Not only is Canada’s setting conducive for strong business, but its developed economy and commercial relations with the United States of America make it a favourable destination for business. 

Establishing a business in Canada can be relatively quick and easy, so long as steadfast compliance is met with local legislation and legal frameworks. Canada is known for its richness of natural resources and skilled workers and this country has, over the years, attracted investment from a range of industries, such as oil and gas and manufacturing. Its stable economy, favourable income tax treaties and being one of the highest-ranking countries to start a business encourages investment in Canada. 

A Guide to Employing Staff in Canada

Everything you need to know about the employment laws and compliance requirements in Canada.


Canada’s Trade Relations 

The free-trade agreements in Canada provides preferential access to world markets. With Canada’s corporate tax being one of the lowest in the world, it is an enticing opportunity for foreign investment.

Establishing your business in Canada

Embarking on a global expansion is a strategic move to gain extra value from exciting foreign markets, which are constantly evolving and full of opportunity. But the international stage isn’t always easy to navigate. 

Yet, before establishing your operation in this Canadian market, you must ensure compliance with employment law. 


Employment laws in Canada

When first expanding your business into Canada, navigating local laws, legislation and rules of employment laws is no mean feat. Throughout the world, these laws are almost never universal. Rather, employment is dynamic and reflects the country social, economic, cultural opportunities. 

Did you know?

Quebec does not follow the common law system, but rather adopts a civil law system in the form of the civil code.

Employment rights & contracts in Canada  

Employees may be employed under a written or oral contract, with the exception of domestic employees who must be provided with a written contract. However, for clarity it is advised employers issue a written contract to their employees.

There are no legal requirements of the written particulars with an employee’s contract. However, employers must keep written records of key information such as contractual benefits. The exact requirements vary depending on the provinces. 

Hiring & recruitment in Canada 

When getting your first hire overseas, you will need to negotiate terms of employment. But that requires local knowledge, strict compliance, and an understanding of what to include in an offer. 

For foreign hires, the employer bears responsibility to obtain a favourable Labor Market Opinion (LMO) from Service Canada to confirm the genuineness of a job offer and its likelihood of its neutral or positive economic effect on the Canadian labor market. This is know as a ‘Request for Job Offer Confirmation’. If employment is based in Québec, the province’s consent must be gained too.

Once a positive LMO has been received, it is the responsibility of the prospective employee to apply for a work permit.

Equal Opportunities in Canada 

Under Canadian legislation, all employees can expect to experience a workplace free from discrimination. Employment equality promotes fair treatment for the following:

  • Women
  • Indigenous persons
  • Those with disabilities

What are the working hours in Canada?

The standard working hours in Canada varies by province. In British Columbia, it is 8 hours daily or 40 hours weekly. In Alberta, the daily hours are also 8 hours but 44 hours weekly. Employers in Ontario can require employees to work 48 hours per week, but overtime must be paid beyond 44 hours. In Quebec, no limit on weekly working hours is in place, however overtime is payable after 40 hours. 

Overtime in Canada 

Similarly to the standard working hours, overtime varies across the four provinces.

  • British Columbia: 1.5 time pay over 40 hours per week. This is capped at 12 hours per day. If employee is working beyond 12 hours per day this is paid at two times normal rate of pay.
  • Alberta & Ontario: Hours worked over 44 hours per week are to be paid at 1.5 times normal rate of pay.
  • Quebec: Employees are paid at 1.5 times normal rate of pay for hours worked beyond 40 hours weekly.

Sick Leave in Canada 

Sick leave and pay entitlement are set at by the provinces. In Quebec, where there is an injury or illness, employees are entitled up to 26 weeks’ leave over a 12-month period once length in service criteria is met. This is extended to 104 weeks if injuries are suffered following a crime. In Ontario, employees are entitled to 10 days for personal emergency which includes illness. In Alberta, employees are entitled to 16 weeks of sick leave whilst British Columbia entitlement is 3 days.  

In Alberta and British Columbia, there are no statutory sick pay requirements.

Maternity Leave in Canada 

Pregnant employees may take unpaid maternity leave of 17 weeks in Ontario and British Columbia, 16 weeks in Alberta, and 18 weeks in Québec providing length of service requirements are met. Employees are entitled to benefits under the federal Employment Insurance programme (EI) or Québec parental insurance plan (QPIP) in Québec.

Paternity and Parental Leave in Canada 

Parents are entitled to between 52 to 63 weeks of unpaid leave of absence depending on jurisdiction, and subject to meeting the length of service requirement in the applicable legislation within the province. In Québec, fathers can take 5 consecutive weeks from work unpaid in addition to parental leave.

Public Holidays in Canada

There are in public holidays in Canada that are taken nationally whilst others are province-specific. For the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec they are as follows:

  • New Year’s Day (1 January)
  • Family Day (3rd Monday in February) – Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario
  • Good Friday – In Quebec employees can choose to give time off on Good Friday or Easter Monday
  • Victoria Day (Monday preceding 25th May) – Known as National Patriots’ Day in Quebec
  • National Holiday (24th June) – Quebec
  • Canada Day (1st July)
  • Civic Holiday (1st Monday in August – All provinces except Quebec
  • Labor Day (1st Monday in September)
  • Thanksgiving Day (2nd Monday in October)
  • Remembrance Day (11th November) – Alberta and British Columbia
  • Christmas Day (25th December)
  • Boxing Day (26th December) – Ontario

Employees are typically entitled to paid leave on bank holidays.  

Vacation or Annual Leave 

This entitlement typically covers 2 weeks of paid leave per year with at least one year’s continual service. In British Columbia and Alberta, this increases to 3 weeks after five years’ service and in Quebec this increases after three years’ service. Employees in Quebec with less than 1 years’ service can accrue holiday at a rate of one day per month up to a maximum of 2 weeks.

Vacation pay generally is paid at a rate of 4% of gross pay for 2 weeks entitlement and 6% gross pay for those entitled to 3 weeks. In Alberta, employee’s vacation pay is calculated by dividing their monthly salary by 4.33.

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End of Service 

HR in Canada requires compliance not only during an employee’s service, but also at the end of it. End of service might include severance, termination, redundancy, and leaving packages.

For these more complicated matters, you will need expert HR guidance to navigate Canadian labor laws and remain compliant. 

Termination (including Severance) in Canada  

The termination of an employee is either for cause or with reasonable notice, or payment in lieu thereof, where no cause exists. If part of a union, a collective agreement is likely to be in place to prevent dismissal without “just cause”. Fixed contract employees cannot be dismissed with the contract term except for cause. Each provincial statutes provide minimum notice period requirements.

Sick pay 

Although subject to eligibility, an employee absent from work due to illness or injury is entitled to receive benefits from the social security fund through Employment Insurance. 

Social Security

Canada has a comprehensive social security system that provides support for the following:

  • Healthcare
  • Employment Insurance (EI)
  • Family allowances
  • Old age pension
  • Workers Compensation Insurance

Supplemental benefits

Health Insurance

It is common for employers to provide group health insurance plans to complement the state-provided Medicare provision. These normally provide coverage with the following: 

  • Semi-private or private wards
  • 100% reimbursement basis for emergency treatment out of Canada
  • Higher level and reimbursement of prescription drugs
  • Dental care
  • Vision care
  • Prosthetics
  • Paramedical services

Death & Disability Insurance

Similar to policy regarding health insurance, it is an obligation to enrol employees onto a Death and Disability scheme, although it is common for employers to do so. 

Why Partner With IRIS?

When entering new, exciting countries like Canada, you will need an employment specialist to navigate the parts of local laws that are mandatory and those that are not. Delivering a compliant solution, IRIS can help your business arrive into new marketplaces whilst protecting your workforce – our partners can discover power and protection through us. 

Overseas expansions can seem risky to those who dare it alone. Understanding the complexity of a fully complaint solution, IRIS can help businesses expand globally, especially when they build bridges in Canada.

Our cost-effective, knowledgeable approach to HR in Canada makes us an ideal partner to commence your overseas plans.