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This content is for informational purposes only. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this content. It is not legal advice and shall not be relied on as such.

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Canada is a North American country bordered by the United States to the south. Canada is made up of 10 provinces and 3 territories, making it the world’s second largest country by landmass. English and French are the official languages. Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog and Arabic are some of the other languages spoken. Canada is often regarded as one of the least corrupt countries in the world. With an extremely diversified economy and political stability, it remains one of the best places for international expansion into North America.

In Canada, an employment agreement can be either verbal or written, and for an indefinite term or fixed term, but a written employment agreement is recommended. Employment contracts should include clauses regarding:

  • termination,

  • probation,

  • working hours,

  • salary and leaves, and

  • bonuses and other entitlements.

Employers can conduct background checks on prospective employees. However, these checks must be limited to information such as:

  • criminal background,

  • education,

  • employment history, and

  • reference check.

The standard work period in Canada is 40 hours a week or eight hours a day over five days. Federally regulated employees are entitled to 24 hours of rest each week, which usually occurs on a Sunday. The work week is reduced by eight hours if a holiday occurs during the week. If an employee works more than the standard 40 hours in a work week, they are entitled to overtime pay. The maximum number of hours an employee can work in a week is 48. This can be exceeded in certain circumstances.

Canada's national government does not mandate that all private employers provide paid sick leave to their employees. However, employers in federally regulated industries (such as the transportation, banking, port services, telecommunications, radio, and television broadcasting sectors) are required to provide their employees with paid sick leave.

Federally-regulated employers with 100 or more employees must provide employees with at least 10 days of paid sick leave.

The range of sick leave entitlement on the provincial level is broad: from three days in Manitoba to up to 26 weeks in Quebec. Most provinces provide unpaid sick leave.

Female employees are entitled to 17 weeks of unpaid maternity leave in Canada. In some instances, the time off may be longer depending on the length of employment. While the leave is unpaid, employees may be eligible for employee insurance benefits. Canada’s employment insurance program provides up to 15 weeks of maternity benefits. Employees also receive up to 63 weeks of unpaid parental leave, or 71 weeks if the leave is shared between parents. The leave may be taken within the 78-week period from the date of birth or the date the child is adopted. While parental leave is not paid, as with maternity leave, employees may be eligible for employee insurance benefits. Employees in Quebec are eligible for maternity, paternity parent and adoption benefits under the Quebec Parental Insurance Program, so different rules and eligibility requirements may apply.

Canada has a federal minimum wage that applies to employees in federally regulated industries. Canada's provinces also set provincial minimum wages. Bonus payments are not required in Canada, but employers may choose to pay them.

An employee can take two weeks of paid vacation leave in Canada after 12 months of employment. After five consecutive years of employment, employees are entitled to three weeks of paid vacation leave. After 10 years of consecutive employment, employees are entitled to four weeks of vacation leave.

In Canada, the public holidays are:

  • New Year's Day

  • Good Friday

  • Easter Monday

  • Victoria Day

  • Canada Day

  • Labour Day

  • Thanksgiving Day

  • Remembrance Day

  • Christmas Day

  • Boxing Day

Canada's provinces may have additional public holidays.

Canada has a universal healthcare system. It is also common for employers to offer supplemental insurance.

Employers must provide employees two weeks’ written notice of termination in Canada. Employers can elect to pay two weeks wages in lieu of notice. The notice period is not required if the employee:

  • has not completed three consecutive months of employment,

  • resigns,

  • is dismissed for misconduct connected to their work, or

  • reaches the end of a contracted position.

Employees who have worked for their employer for at least five years are entitled to severance pay. Employees with at least 12 months of continuous service generally receive one week's pay for each year of service up to 26 weeks. However, the total amount of severance can depend on several factors including the employment agreement, any applicable bargaining agreements, and provincial laws.

  • Local Laws & Regulations

    We understand that local laws and regulations change and sourcing an accurate reference guide is not easy. Our data is researched and verified by our team of local international Employment Attorneys, HR and Benefit Professionals and Tax Accountants through our Atlas team and consultants, to ensure information up-to-date and accurate.

  • Partner with atlas logo

    Partnering with Atlas when expanding into Canada can dramatically reduce the standard brick and mortar processes of doing business in foreign markets and allow you to focus on what you do best, growing your company! To discover more about how Atlas can simplify your ability to expand globally, please feel free to contact us.

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