Employment Law

Employment Law
Canada Pension
Plan (CCP)
The CPP is a mandatory, universal pension plan which pays
monthly pensions to individuals who have been employed in
Canada. Payments are calculated using past contributions you and
your employers have made, based on your income. Normally CPP
benefits begin at age 65 but you can receive them as early as age 60
if you qualify. An employee who suffers a permanent disability and
is unable to work can apply for a CPP Disability Pension at any
Contract for
When an individual enters into a contract as a self-employed
person to provide services for a fee based on a sum of money agreed
to by contract. The self employed individual provides an invoice for
services and must pay taxes based on income earned as a self
employed individual.
Discrimination is when a person is treated differently because of
their gender, age, religion, ethnic or visible minority, disability or
sexual orientation. Some laws do discriminate, for example, you
must be a certain age to obtain a driving licence, or to vote.
Program (EI)
EI is a mandatory, universal plan for insuring earnings that will be
paid when a person is laid off from work, or is unable to work
because of illness, pregnancy, the birth of child or other
compassionate grounds.
Full time
Full time employment is permanent employment with a minimum
of 37.5 hours a week. Unlike a contact position, there is no
termination date for the employment. A full time position
terminates when you have been given proper notice (depending on
how many years you have worked for the employer), your position
has been terminated, you quit or are fired. If you are laid off
because there is a lack of work, you can return to the position when
there is more work.
Gross earnings
Earnings before deductions for taxes, CPP and EI.
Earnings that qualify towards EI benefits.
Minimum wage
Is the minimum hourly wage to be paid to employees. Each
province and territory sets the minimum wage to be paid. Some
employment positions are exempt from minimum wage.
Net earnings
Earnings remaining after deductions have been made.
Permanent positions, whether full-time or part-time, require that
notice be given when employment is terminated, if the employee
has worked for the employer for more than six months. How much
notice is given depends on how many years the employee has been
employed with the employer.
Employment where the employee works less than 37.5 hours a
Piece work
Wages based on how much work has been produced as opposed to
the number of hours worked.
An individual who contracts with another person or organization to
provide a service is self-employed. This person must report their
income to Revenue Canada and pay income tax and CPP benefits.
Is conduct or behaviour that is offensive and sexual in nature. May
include the telling of explicit sexual jokes by co-workers,
unwelcome inappropriate touches, or the displaying of explicit
sexual material such as photographs.
In Prince Edward Island there are six statutory holidays: New
Year’s Day, Good Friday, Canada Day, Labour Day, Remembrance
Day and Christmas Day. Full time employees are entitled to these
holidays. Other employees may also be entitled if they worked 15
days of the 30 days preceding the holiday, worked the day
immediately before the holiday and the day after the holiday.
When you apply for a job or go for an interview, it is a good idea to ask questions.
You can ask about the work and the working conditions.
How many hours will you be expected to work?
If you are on call, how many hours can you expect to work each week?
Is shift work required?
How much will you be paid?
What is the policy about overtime?
What is the policy about sick time?
When you go for an interview, you should be prepared to ask questions as well as
answer them.
Employers have to meet certain employment standards which are set out in a
provincial law called the Employment Standards Act. The purpose of the Act is to
ensure that employees are treated fairly and consistently in the workplace.
There are other provincial laws which also regulate employment relationships and
working conditions and include:
the Workers Compensation Act which provides benefits and
compensation for employees who are injured on the job;
the Occupational Health and Safety Act which sets workplace standards,
to protect the health and safety of employees;
the Youth Employment Act: which regulates employment for youth
under the age of 16;
the Labour Act which regulates the relationship between unionized
workers and their employers and provides the process for certifying a
union; and
the Human Rights Act which authorizes investigations and dispute
resolution for complaints of discrimination in the workplace including
sexual harassment.
How much does my employer have to pay me?
In most jobs you must be paid at least the minimum wage. In P.E.I., the rate for
2008 is $8.00 an hour. This rate will usually increase each year. Exceptions to a
minimum wage include, farm work, babysitting, and caring for the elderly or people
with disabilities in private homes. Some employers also pay on the basis of piece
work, where the amount of your wage is based on the amount you produce, or pay a
commission based on the amount you sell. If you are being paid less than minimum
wage you may contact the Employment Standards Branch (see contact information
at the end of this document) to make sure that you are not being paid less than you
are entitled to receive.
Contract for Services
Increasingly businesses and governments are contracting for services rather than
hiring employees to do the work. This means that the person providing the service
is considered to be self-employed, and is paid for services by submitting an invoice
for services or is paid based on an agreed fixed amount as per the contract. Because
this is a payment for services as opposed to a wage there are no deductions made
and no benefits provided. It is then up to the person who is self-employed to make
the required deductions for CPP and provincial and federal income tax.
However, even though you may have a contract for services with a business, agency,
organization or even a government department, it may not meet the requirements
of Revenue Canada. When determining if there is a contract for services or if an
employee/employer relationship exists, Revenue Canada will examine such things
who controls the workplace
who dictates the hours of work
who is supplying the tools and equipment to provide the service
If Revenue Canada determines that the relationship is employer/employee, the
employer will have the responsibility of ensuring that all mandatory deductions are
made from your wages.
Pay Deductions
An employer has an obligation to make deductions from your earnings for income
tax, the Employment Insurance Program (EI) and Canada Pension Plan (CPP).
Your employer is also required to make payments into the EI program and the CPP.
Under the EI program, you are entitled to collect weekly benefits for a period of up
to 45 weeks (depending upon which region of Canada you live in) if you have been
laid off, you have worked enough hours to qualify and you have insurable earnings.
This allows you to have an income while you look for another job. The rate paid is
55% of your regular earnings before deductions. Qualifying requirements and
program delivery are subject to change.
The CPP deductions you make accumulate throughout your working life. When you
retire, you will be eligible to collect a government pension. The amount of the
pension you will receive depends on the amount you have paid into the CPP fund.
Some workplaces also offer private pension funds and health care benefits. You do
not have to participate in these programs, however you should consider the benefits
they offer. Making contributions to a private pension is like putting money in the
bank for when you retire. Private health care plans usually cover a large portion of
the cost of prescription drugs, glasses, hearing aids and other health related
services and goods that are not covered through the public health care system.
If you owe child support payments, back taxes, overpayments of EI benefits and/or
child support and spousal benefits, both provincial and federal governments have
the authority to garnishee or make deductions from your wages. This means that
they can take their payments from your salary before you get paid. (Refer to Module
VII, Family Law, for more information on the provincial Maintenance Enforcement
The employer is required to provide you with a pay slip that shows:
the name and address of the employer and name of the employee
the period of time or the work for which the employee is being paid
the rate of wages to which the employee is entitled and the number of
hours worked
the gross amount of wages to which an employee is entitled
the amount and purpose of each deduction
any bonus, gratuity, living allowance or other payment to which the
employee is entitled and
the net amount of money being paid to the employee1
Do I get paid holidays?
There are six statutory holidays in a calendar year. They are New Year's Day; Good
Friday; Canada Day; Labour Day; Remembrance Day and Christmas Day.
In order to qualify for these holidays an employee must:
be employed 30 calendar days prior to the holiday
earned wages on 15 of the 30 calendar days prior to the holiday
Prince Edward Island, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, 2004 Guide to
Employment Standards, Catalogue no. 04AC41-7775, p. 11
worked their last scheduled shift prior to the holiday and first scheduled
shift after the holiday
If you meet these qualifications and are asked to work on one of the statutory
holidays, you will be paid time-and-a-half for that day and be given another day off
with pay. This means that if your regular rate of pay is $8.00 an hour, you will
receive $12.00 an hour for working on the statutory holiday.
Do I get paid vacation?
If you work at the same job for one year, you are entitled to two weeks paid
vacation. Your vacation pay must equal 4% of the wages you have earned in one
year. If a paid holiday falls within your vacation period, your vacation must be
extended for one day.
If you have worked at the same job for less than a year and your job ends, you must
be paid 4% of the total wages you have earned during this time. The employer must
give you your vacation pay no later than one pay period after you stop working.
If you get room and board as part of your pay, the 4% vacation pay must include the
cash value of your room and board.
Does my employer have to pay me overtime?
In P.E.I., there is no limit to the number of hours per week an employer can ask you
to work. However, if you work more than forty-eight (48) hours a week, your
employer must pay you one-and-a-half times your regular hourly rate of pay for
each hour of overtime. Some employers and/or industries are exempt from this rule;
these include the construction industry, fish processing industry, trucking industry,
peat moss industry and health care industry. If you want to find out if your
employer is exempt, call the Employment Standards Branch.
What breaks do I get?
You are entitled to one 30 minute unpaid break for every five hours worked. "Coffee
breaks" or "smoke breaks" are not provided for under the Act. You are also entitled
to one day off for every six days work, the Act states that wherever possible this day
is Sunday.
Do I have to come to work every time my employer calls me in?
Yes, but you must be paid for a total of three working hours each time you are
called in to work even if you only work for one or two hours.
What if I am sick and cannot go to work?
After six months of continuous service with an employer, you are entitled to unpaid
leaves of absence of up to three days for sick leave during a 12-month employment
period. If you take three consecutive days, the employer may ask you for a medical
Can I have time off if I am pregnant?
If you have worked a minimum of 20 continuous weeks with the same employer you
are entitled to seventeen weeks of unpaid maternity leave. You may start your
leave anytime within the eleven-week period before the birth of your baby.
You may also be eligible for maternity benefits under the Employment Insurance
Program (EI). In order to qualify, you must have insurable earnings, meaning that
you have paid into the EI fund through salary deductions and have worked 600
hours within a 52 week period or since a previous claim for benefits under the
program. If you qualify, you will be paid at a rate of 55% of your regular earnings
up to a maximum of $413.00 a week.
Under the program, a birth-mother is entitled to receive 15 weeks of maternity
leave and may be eligible for an additional 15 weeks of sick benefits. The EI
program also provides for parental leave of up to 35 weeks that can be shared by the
parents, if both parents qualify. For example, you and your spouse/partner might
decide that one of you will take 20 weeks of parental leave, while the other takes 15
weeks. Contact Service Canada for more information on maternity and parental
Can I go back to the same job afterwards?
Yes, you have the right to go back to your job with the same pay and benefits. If the
position no longer exists, your employer must give you another position with the
same pay and benefits.
Can I take time off if we adopt a baby?
Yes, the same conditions apply. You may have seventeen weeks of unpaid leave if
you have worked at your job for twenty weeks. Both men and women have the right
to take this leave. If you meet the eligibility requirements of the EI program you
are entitled to 35 weeks of parental leave. The same conditions apply as for parents
of a new born child.
Can a woman take maternity leave and parental leave?
Yes, she must take her parental leave immediately after her maternity leave unless
she has an arrangement with her employer. She must also give her employer two
weeks notice of the date that she is returning to work.
Can I take time off if someone in my family dies?
If someone in your immediate family dies, you may take up to three days without
pay. Your immediate family includes your spouse or common-law partner, child,
parent, brother or sister. If someone in your extended family, such a grandparent,
aunt or uncle dies, you are entitled to have one day off without pay.
How much notice must I get if I am laid off?
The first six months that you work for an employer are considered a probationary
period. During this time an employer can lay you off without notice. After six
months, an employer must give you two weeks notice. If you have been working in
the same place for more than five years, you must get four weeks notice. The
employer must also provide you with a Record of Employment (ROE) showing the
wages earned, the total number of hours worked and reasons for the layoff or
termination of your employment. The ROE is important as it is required in order to
apply for Employment Insurance.
How much notice must I give when I leave a job?
You must give one week's notice if you have worked at your job for more than six
months but less than five years. If you have been there for more than five years,
you must give two weeks notice.
What can I do if any of the employment standards are not being kept in my
Talk to other people in the workplace to see if they are having the same problems.
Call the Employment Standards Branch of the Department of Communities,
Cultural Affairs and Labour. They have the authority to do inspections and take
action on your behalf. Contact information is provided at the end of this module.
Can an employer refuse to give me a job because I am an immigrant?
No, if you are legally able to work in Canada and you meet the requirements for the
job, you must be considered on the same basis as every other person applying for
the job. On Prince Edward Island it is against the Human Rights Act to deny you
employment because of your:
colour or race
creed or religion
criminal conviction
ethnic or national origin
family status
marital status
physical or mental disability
political belief
sexual orientation
source of income
It is illegal for an employer to ask you for any information on an application form
which could lead to discrimination.
If you experience discrimination or harassment in the workplace once you have
been hired, bring it to your supervisor or employer’s attention. Your employer is
responsible for what happens in the workplace. If your complaint is with the
employer or if the employer fails to respond to a complaint of workplace
discrimination by other employees, contact the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission
and make a complaint.
Equality in the workplace
You may find it hard to get work when you first come to Canada. Research has
shown us that discrimination against visible minorities does exist in the workplace.
Even when it is not obvious, discrimination may be present in the form of systemic
barriers. Systemic barriers are employment practices that are neutral in
themselves, but have a negative effect on certain groups. Some examples of
systemic barriers are:
qualifications that are not job related, such as the automatic
requirement of a university degree which often excludes visible
employment tests that are linguistically, culturally or sexually biased
and screen out minorities
work practices which require employees to put in extremely long or
inflexible hours and so discriminate against parents with young
Employment equity programs have had success in ensuring equal access to work for
all groups of people including women, visible minorities and people with disabilities.
These programs help employers set goals and timetables for the hiring of people
from employment disadvantaged groups. Some people consider employment equity
programs as reverse discrimination, however statistics show that there must be a
catch-up process. Some discrimination is needed to reverse historic trends, as this
will not happen naturally. Without employment equity programs, the gap will
simply continue or get wider. Under employment equity no one loses their job and
many people gain. If you think that systemic barriers are creating discrimination
in your search for employment or advancement in your current employment contact
the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission.
What is sexual harassment?
Sexual Harassment means any conduct, comment, gesture or contact of a sexual
that is likely to cause offence or humiliation to any employee, or
that might, on reasonable grounds, be perceived by that employee
as placing a condition of a sexual nature on employment or on any
opportunity for training or promotion.2
Sexual harassment can be experienced by both men and women however, women
are more likely to experience sexual harassment.
Some examples of sexual harassment are:
questions and discussions about sexual activities, suggestive remarks and
innuendos, bragging about sexual prowess, and proposals of physical
being judged on physical attributes rather than skills
Prince Edward Island, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, 2004 Guide to
Employment Standards, Catalogue no. 04AC41-7775, p. 14
displays of pornographic or sexually degrading material in the work place
practical jokes of a sexual nature which cause awkwardness or
letters and notes expressing sexual intentions
leering or other gestures
unnecessary physical contact
Sexual harassment is a major source of anxiety and can lead to severe problems to
your physical and mental health. It can affect your ability to do your work and may
compromise any future career plans.
Do I have any protection if I am sexually harassed on the job?
Your employer is responsible for keeping the workplace free of sexual
harassment. Your employer must have a policy on sexual harassment, that is
posted so all employees can see it and are aware of the policy. The policy
must define sexual harassment and explain the steps to be taken if it
happens at work.
If you are being sexually harassed:
do not ignore it, it will not go away and will probably get worse
understand that you do not have to put up with it
speak directly to the individual who is harassing you and ask that
they stop the harassment, or
inform your supervisor, union representative or other person
designated in the sexual harassment policy
If nothing happens, file a complaint with the P.E.I. Human Rights
Commission. Keep a note of every act of harassment with times, dates,
description, and names of witnesses. This is very important. Consider
speaking to your co-workers about it. Other employees may have been
harassed as well.
What happens if I am injured while at work?
In P.E.I., workplace injuries are covered by the Workers Compensation Act.
Under the Act, you are entitled to collect benefits on either a temporary or
permanent basis depending upon the seriousness and extent of your injuries.
If the injury prevents you from returning to the same job, you may be eligible
for a re-training program.
Your employer has an obligation to make the work place safe. The
Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that employers take steps to
reduce risks in the workplace. Occupational health and safety officials are
responsible for monitoring work sites and providing training programs for
both employees and employers on workplace safety. Contact information is
provided at the end of the module.
Youth Employment
Child labour is illegal in Canada. The Youth Employment Act regulates
conditions for employing youths under 16. Youths under 16 years of age are
prohibited from working on construction sites.
An employer who employs a youth is required to:
take into account the age, knowledge, education and work
experience when assigning duties
identify any potential risks to health and safety and provide
appropriate instruction
personally supervise the youth’s work or ensure that they are
supervised by an adult who has the experience of the work
provide adequate training and instruction before authorizing the
youth to perform unsupervised work3
Resources Contact Information
Copies of the Employment Standards Act and complaint forms are available
Prince Edward Island, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, 2004 Guide to
Employment Standards, Catalogue no. 04AC41-7775, p. 19- 20.
Employment Standards Branch
Toll Free
31 Gordon Drive, Sherwood
(902) 368-
PO Box 2000, Charlottetown, PEI C1A 7N8 online: www.pe.gov.ca
Department of Development and Technology
5th Floor, Shaw Building
Access Alberton
(902) 3684219
(902) 8538622
(902) 3685200
(902) 8380600
(902) 8598800
(902) 6877000
(902) 8888000
(902) 8827351
(902) 8547250
Access Charlottetown
Access Montague
Access O’Leary
Access Souris
Access Summerside
Access Tignish
Access Wellington
Other resources:
Service Canada
Provides infomation on various federal government programs including
the Employment Insurance Program.
Worker Compensation Board
Toll Free
(902) 3685680
Provides benefits and compensation and re-training for workers who
have been injured at work.
Occupational Health and Safety
(902) 3685696
PEI Human Rights Commission
Toll Free
(902) 3684180