Labor standards in Quebec

Labor Standards Act

Labor legislation is defined by the Act respecting labor standards (LSA), which sets out the minimum conditions of employment. The Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work Commission (CNESST) ensures the application of this Act: salary, breaks, holidays, sick leave, termination of employment, dismissal, psychological harassment, etc. However, the LSA does not apply to all (eg, self-employed persons, persons working for a body governed by federal laws, students, etc.).

The standard workweek is set at 40 hours. Many companies offer weeks between 35 and 39 hours. Days usually start at 8:30 am and end around 4:30 pm, leaving time for family and recreation.

As of May 1, 2017, the minimum wage is $ 11.25 per hour or $ 9.45 per hour for employees tipped.

You will also be entitled to paid leave, calculated on the basis of the number of working months accumulated. Generally, employees start with 10 days of paid annual leave. There are also 8 public holidays per year that are non-working. The pregnant employee may take an 18-week maternity leave; the father a paternity leave of 5 weeks. Both parents can take parental leave for up to one year. It is possible to benefit from benefits. Check with the Québec Parental Insurance Plan.

In the area of occupational health and safety, the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) sets up various programs for the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases. A system of compensation for workers suffering employment injuries is also foreseen.

Employment contract

It may seem surprising for many immigrants to find that the employment contract in Quebec can be oral or written. Thus, your employer will not necessarily issue an employment contract (particularly in small companies), but you should be aware that the bases of any employment contract are set out in the Civil Code of Québec and the Act respecting labor standards.

The contract may be for a fixed term (temporary) or indefinite (permanent). In the event of a breach of contract, both the employer and the employee must comply with the reasonable notice (usually 15 days, but more if they have been in a position of responsibility or for at least two years). The employer must give you a record of employment indicating all your hours worked. In the event of a termination considered unfair, the employee may file a complaint with the Standards, Equity, Health and Safety (CNESST) Commission.

Lost Work and Employment Insurance

If you lose your job, under certain conditions, it is possible to receive employment insurance benefits from the Government of Canada.

Obligations of employer

The employer must comply with the Act respecting labor standards (LSA) by offering conditions of employment at least equal to those set out in the Act. It must respect the right of employees to unionize. The union is in charge of negotiating the working conditions applicable to all the employees it represents. A collective agreement is then negotiated for a minimum of one year or three if it is the first one for the employees covered by the accreditation. If the agreement is not renewed following its expiry, the Labor Code (which regulates unionization, bargaining and the right to strike) gives employees the right to strike and the employer to declare a strike-lockout. The employer is required by various laws to ensure the health and safety of its employees.

Payment of salary and payroll

Generally, the salary is paid every 15 days, but some employers pay by the week, except for executives often paid monthly. On your payroll, you will note the following deductions: federal tax, provincial tax, Quebec Pension Plan (QPP), Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP), Employment Insurance (EI). To this may be added, depending on your employer, contributions to savings plans, union or insurance.

Use of the French language at work

French is the official language of Quebec. It is a peculiarity in the Canadian landscape, mainly English-speaking. It is also a surprise for some immigrants who think they land in an anglophone universe. French is an important element in the identity of Quebeckers, which explains why the use of the French language is defended and claimed. It is, therefore, necessary to speak French to integrate into everyday life, but also to work.

Quebec has a language policy, based mainly on the Charter of the French Language (also known as Act 101), adopted in 1977, to promote the French language. Section 4 of the Charter recognizes workers’ right to carry on business in French. All employers in Quebec are required to respect this fundamental right.

Know that your employer can get support to set up classes of French in his company.

Professional references

It is customary for a recruiter to ask for references from former employers. You will be able to provide them with a few that he can call to take information about you, your skills and attitudes at work. It is therefore important to leave your employer in good time.

For immigrants who do not have a professional background in Quebec, any type of job you have started at the beginning can serve as a reference, even if you have not practiced in your sector of activity. Whether you have been a waiter while you have experience in logistics does not matter: your future employer will ask your former employer about your behavior, your punctuality …

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