Employee Rights

Updated: May 19, 2020

Sometimes as employees we don’t know our own rights, and sometimes as employees we don’t fight for our rights even if we know them because we are scared we may lose our jobs. Canada has both federal and provincial laws in place to protect employees and to establish rules that employers must follow.

As an employer, it is crucial that all current legislation be followed. Now, more than ever, there is a vast amount of legislation that details how employees must be treated fairly, without indifference, and without prejudice. Companies are also required to provide employment opportunities to select groups of people who may be classified as minorities to ensure everyone can have the opportunity to work in a safe workplace and receive equal respect.

Rights in the Workplace

Canadians all have the right to be treated fairly while they are at work, be free from discrimination, and generally feel safe and respected in the workplace.


The Canadian Human Rights Act is an expansive piece of legislation that prohibits any discrimination based on race, gender, ethnicity and other grounds.


Canada's Employment Equity Act and the Federal Contractors Program requires employers to take action on improving the employment opportunities for specific groups of people.


Labour rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees within the sectors that are federally regulated are governed under the Canada Labour Code. The rights of foreign workers are governed under federal or provincial/territorial labour laws.


The Canadian Human Rights Act

The Canadian Human Rights Act is a law to prohibit discrimination from employers under federal jurisdiction. Under the Act, Canadians are protected from discrimination when they receive services or are employed by:

  • the federal government

  • First Nations governments

  • private companies regulated by the federal government such as, banks, trucking companies, broadcasters and telecommunications companies.

This means that employers and service providers must ensure that their employees are treated equally, without discrimination.


The Employment Equity Act

Federally regulated organizations and businesses must provide equal employment opportunities to these four specified groups according to the The Employment Equity Act:

  • women

  • Aboriginal peoples (Indian, Inuit or Métis)

  • people with disabilities

  • members of visible minorities

The Canada Labour Code

Generally, the Canada Labour Code encompasses:

  • industrial relations, including the certification of unions, collective bargaining, unfair labour practices and labour-management relations

  • workplace health and safety

  • employment standards, including general holidays, minimum wage, annual vacations, working hours, unjust dismissals, layoff procedures and severance pay.

  • Employment standards for the businesses and services that are outside of these sectors are governed by their provincial or territorial labour laws.

As you can see, Canada has a huge amount of legislation in place to ensure employees are treated equally, fairly, without prejudice, and from generally being taken advantage of by their employer. Employers must understand their obligations, and it is just as important for employees to understand their rights.


Here are some links for you to further your research:

  1. Canadian Human Rights Act: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/h-6/page-1.html

  2. Canada Labour Code: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/l-2/

  3. The Employment Equity Act: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/E-5.401/

  4. Understand your rights as a foreign worker: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/work-canada/permit/temporary/after-apply-next-steps/understand-your-rights-foreign-workers.html

  5. Rights of people with disabilities: https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/rights-people-disabilities.html


Please check out the resources tab on our website for some links on Provincial legislation.


Visit our website regularly to view the latest “News and Updates” on issues that impact you, your business and the industry.


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