Employment Law

January 2023 – Your Employment Rights in Canada

Employment lawyer calgary

Whether you are an independent worker, temporary, or you have a salary with a company, you are entitled to rights as a worker in Canada. Worker rights have been evolving throughout history all across the world and were conquered through a lot of demands from other workers in Canada. Upholding those rights is pivotal in a professional relationship to ensure that the work environment is fair so you, and others, are able to perform your job in the best possible way.

Many times, your worker rights are being infringed and you may not even know. Or if you do know, you may be coerced into not going after them by being afraid you might risk your livelihood. Unfortunately, a lot of people are not even familiar with their rights and duties in the workplace, so having an employment lawyer calgary with you throughout those situations will greatly aid you in protecting your best interests.

But what are your employment rights in Canada? And what does it mean to you? In the following topics, we will look into them and how they can make your work life much easier.

The Canadian Human Rights Act

There are several legally binding documents that mention your rights as a worker here in Canada. That includes anyone, regardless of their status here—temporary residents, permanent residents, and citizens.

The first important document we have to look into is the Canadian Human Rights Act. In this document, your rights to not be discriminated against are protected in any employment or service within federal jurisdiction. What it means is that you are protected from discrimination whether you are employed or receiving any kind of services from the federal government, first nation governments, or private companies regulated by the federal government. They must treat everyone equally regardless of colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, disabilities, etc.

This also includes the duty to accommodate. The duty to accommodate is the necessity of places to adapt their space or tasks so the worker can perform their work on a day-to-day basis, and it applies to any needs based on the ground of discrimination. 

Companies, however, can claim undue hardship to not follow through on this obligation. That is, if a company cannot accommodate you, it will need to prove that to do so, it would need to go through an unjust and overly difficult situation. Examples of this can be if a trucker for a small trucking company develops a condition that negatively influences their vision to the point they cannot allow him to drive anymore. If the company proves that they have few employees and that keeping the driver on their payroll would cause undue hardship, they may be able to let the driver go.

The Employment Equity Act

In Canada, workers must be treated equally. Minorities groups or groups that were historically treated unjustly and not given the same opportunities to develop their careers and lives are specifically named to receive equal employment opportunities, them being:

  • Women
  • Aboriginal People
  • People with disabilities
  • Members of visible minorities

Similar to the Employment Equity Act, the Federal Contractors Program is made to provide equal opportunities to the four categories listed above but specifically applies to “employers that fall under the jurisdiction of a province and have been awarded a federal government contract for goods and services of $1 million or more”.

Another important document is the Legislated Employment Equity Program, or LEEP. It requires regulated organizations and businesses to report how many workers from the four groups listed above are present in the workplace. It ensures that those rules are being followed.

Foreigner Workers, and Basic Rights

As previously mentioned, the law protects every worker and includes foreign workers. 

Every foreign worker has the right to be paid for their work, to have a safe workplace free from discrimination and with the proper conditions to perform their tasks, and to keep their passport and/or work permit.

Federal employment laws cover the federal government, banks, companies that transport goods between provinces, telecommunication companies, and most businesses owned and run by the federal government. Most other occupations are covered under provincial and territorial laws.

Every worker also has three basic rights across Canada; the right to know what hazards will be present in the workplace, the right to participate in maintaining the safety of the workplace, and the right to refuse to work under circumstances they believe to be dangerous to themselves or their co-workers.

Your worker rights must be protected always and having an employment lawyer with you when you believe your rights have been denied or infringed is your best line of defence to protect your interests as they are professionals who have been trained to understand the law and its nuances.

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