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What you can expect working in BC

Introduction

The British Columbia Employment Standards Act sets minimum standards of wages and working conditions in most workplaces. A few occupations are covered under the Canada Labour Code instead.

Both the B.C. Employment Standards Act and the Canada Labour Code cover issues such as:

  • minimum wages & wage deductions
  • mandatory payment of overtime
  • vacation leave
  • sick days
  • termination of employment

For more information see:

For general inquiries, contact the Employment Standards Branch Information Line:

  • 1 800 663-3316 (toll-free in British Columbia)

What are your rights?

Wages

As an employee in British Columbia, you are legally entitled to the following minimum wage:

  • General minimum wage: $10.25 per hour [increasing to $10.45 on September 15, 2015].
  • Liquor server: $9.00 per hour [increasing to $9.20 on September 15, 2015]

Specific occupations such as live-in home support workers, resident caretakers, and crop harvesters have their own minimum wage standards.

For more information see:

Paydays and Wage Statements

You must be paid at least 2 times per month. All money earned in a pay period, including overtime and statutory holiday pay, must be paid within eight days after the end of the pay period.

Your employer must provide you with a written or electronic pay statement each payday that shows all details about hours worked, rate(s) of pay, earnings and deductions.

For more information see:

Working hours

Most working hour rules are based on an 8 hour day and 40 hour work week

Regular Hours of Work Rules

  • You are entitled to at least a 30-minute meal break if you work five hours in a row. (Your employer does not have to pay you for meal breaks unless you are required to work or be available for work during this break.)
  • Employers are not required to provide coffee breaks.
  • If you report for work you must be paid for at least two hours, even if you work less than two hours.
  • If you report for work and are scheduled for more than eight hours, you must be paid for at least four hours.
  • A split shift must be completed within 12 hours of when the shift started
  • You must have at least 32 hours in a row free from work each week. If you work during this period, you must be paid time-and-a-half for all hours worked.
  • An employer must not require or allow you to work excessive hours or hours harmful to your health or safety.

Overtime Pay

You are entitled to overtime pay if you work more than:

  • 8 hours per day – You must be paid time-and-a-half for the next four hours worked, and double time for all hours worked in excess of 12 hours in a day.

OR

  • More than 40 hours in a week – You must be paid time-and-a-half after 40 hours. This applies even if you never work more than eight hours in a day.

For more information see:

Statutory Holidays

There are 10 statutory holidays in British Columbia:

  • New Years Day
  • Family Day (February)
  • Good Friday
  • Victoria Day (May)
  • Canada Day (July 1)
  • B.C. Day (August)
  • Labour Day (September)
  • Thanksgiving Day (October)
  • Remembrance Day (November 11)
  • Christmas Day

Note: Easter Sunday, Easter Monday and Boxing Day are not statutory holidays.

To be eligible for statutory holiday pay you must:

  • Have been employed for 30 calendar days before the statutory holiday

and

  • Have worked or earned wages on 15 of the 30 days immediately before the statutory holiday.

For more information see:

Vacation

After being employed for 12 months, you are entitled to receive an annual vacation.

You are entitled to:

  • at least 2 weeks annual vacation, after 12 consecutive months of employment

OR

  • at least 3 weeks, after 5 consecutive years of employment

Additional information:

  • Your annual vacation is in addition to all statutory holidays you are entitled to
  • Your employer must allow you to take your vacation in periods of one or more weeks unless you request a shorter period
  • Vacation must be taken within 12 months of being earned

Vacation Pay

Your employer must pay you the following amount of vacation pay:

  • After 5 calendar days of employment, at least 4% of your total wages during the year of employment entitling you to vacation pay
  • After 5 consecutive years of employment, at least 6% of your total wages during the year of employment entitling you to vacation pay

For more information see:

Termination of Employment

Your employment contract should state the terms under which you may be fired by your employer or quit. Often a minimum notice of one to four weeks is required by each party, but if it is not stated in your contract then no notice is legally required.

If you lose your job and don’t get written notice or compensation as agreed, you can contact the Employment Standards Branch (ESB) to file a complaint.

You may be eligible for compensation based on the following formula:

  • After three consecutive months of employment – one week’s pay
  • After 12 consecutive months of employment – two weeks’ pay
  • After three consecutive years – three weeks’ pay, plus one week’s pay for each additional year of employment to a maximum of eight weeks.

No compensation is required if:

  • You are given advance written notice of termination equal to the number of weeks for which you are eligible for compensation
  • You have not completed three consecutive months of employment
  • You quit or retire
  • You are dismissed for just cause
  • You work on an on-call basis doing temporary assignments, which you can accept or reject

For more information:

Specific Industry exceptions

A number of industries in British Columbia have specific regulations that only apply to them. These include:

  • Farm Workers
  • Aquaculture & Fish Farms
  • Commission Sales
  • Live-in Caregivers (Domestic)
  • Employment Agencies
  • Entertainment Industry
  • High Technology
  • Loggers Working in Interior
  • Oil and Gas
  • Resident Caretakers
  • Silviculture
  • Taxi Drivers
  • Talent Agencies
  • Truck Drivers
  • Young People
  • Young People in Entertainment

For more information see:

Workplace Safety

All workers have a right to a safe and healthy workplace. You also have the right to refuse work that you feel is dangerous. If you do, your employer must keep paying you until the danger is removed or a government official tells you it is safe to do the work.

For more information see:

Inquiries and Complaints

If you feel like something is not right at work you can get help. For more information see:

What else do I need to know?

  • Employment Insurance
    Employment Insurance (EI) provides temporary financial assistance to unemployed Canadians if you lose your job through no fault of you own, while you look for work or upgrade your skills.
  • Human Rights Code BC
    The Human Rights Code protects British Columbians from discrimination in areas such as employment and housing. Complaints regarding issues of harassment or discrimination based things such as sex, race, religion, and disability can be made to The Human Rights Tribunal.