Workplace rights

As an employer, you need to know about the laws and regulations that protect you and your employees. They establish obligations on topics such as pay, hours of work and safety. When you follow these laws, you protect yourself from damage to your business and your reputation.

Human Rights

The B.C. Human Rights Code defines the basic rights of everyone in B.C. It prohibits discrimination in hiring and harassment on the job and requires equal pay regardless of gender. Read an overview (PDF) or get more detailed information about human rights in the workplace, including employers’ responsibilities from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

Minimum Employment Standards

B.C. has minimum standards for wages and working conditions for most workplaces in the province. The Employment Standards Act sets out rules on hours of work, time off, notice, severance pay and other topics. Read how the rules apply to most employers on the B.C. Employment Standards website.

Some industries such as high-tech, agriculture, taxis, and others have special rules. Learn more about the rules that apply to specific industries and types of workers. Special rules also apply to hiring certain types of employees (such as young people, domestics, and farm labourers.) Detailed Employment Standards information is available online and by phone in multiple languages.

Unions and Labour Relations

If your employees are, or may be, in a union, the B.C. Labour Relations Code defines the rights and obligations that apply. The Guide to the Labour Relations Code describes how it works.

Under the Code, any employee is free to be a member of a trade union and participate in its lawful activities. Employers are also free to be members of employer organizations.

An agreement between an employer and its unionized workers, called a collective agreement, defines wages and working conditions. The Labour Relations Board of British Columbia oversees unionized jobs in B.C.

Safety Standards

All employees have the right to work in a safe and healthy environment. Employers must meet minimum health and safety standards that are described by WorkSafeBC. WorkSafeBC has many publications that detail how to keep your workplace safe.

As an employer, you must register with WorkSafeBC and contribute to the workers compensation system, which provides income and care for workers who are injured on the job.

Bullying and Harassment

Bullying and harassment in the workplace pose a potential risk to the safety and health of workers. Just as with other workplace hazards, you must take steps to prevent this risk. WorkSafeBC has a toolkit and other resources on what you have to do to prevent workplace bullying and harassment.

Job Termination

You must follow certain termination rules when you end a worker’s employment.

Workers are often unprepared when their work ends, especially if they have had little notice. You can make it easier and avoid problems if you prepare in advance.

  • Calculate the worker’s severance pay and arrange for the employee to obtain it.
  • Prepare a record of employment (ROE) so the employee can claim employment insurance when he or she is eligible. For more information, see How to Complete the Record of Employment Form.
  • Make a list of key contact information for the worker. For example, if workers will need to start paying their own Medical Services Plan premiums, you should provide the necessary contact information.
  • Draft a letter of reference in case the employee asks for one.

A record of employment is required by law, and severance pay may be required. Other steps show your goodwill as an employer.