Know your rights as a job applicant
As a job seeker in British Columbia, you have some rights and protections.
- No one can offer you work that does not meet B.C.’s minimum wage and working conditions.
- No one can charge you a fee for submitting a job application.
- You have a right to be free from discrimination.
These protections apply to all workers, whether they are B.C. residents or temporary foreign workers.
Minimum Wage and Working Conditions
The Employment Standards Act states the minimum conditions that an employer must meet. These conditions include the current minimum standards for wages, hours of work, overtime, vacation and similar terms.
An employer may not offer work that does not meet these minimums. Even if you agree to terms less than the minimum, the employer must meet the minimum.
Visit the B.C. Employment Standards website
to learn about the minimum standards that apply to work in B.C. 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.)
If you have a dispute with your employer about working conditions and you cannot resolve it together, use the Employment Standards Complaint Process
to get help.
Job Application Fees or Costs
No one can charge you a fee for hiring you or for giving you information about employers who are offering work. Job agencies may charge you fees for other services, such as preparing resumes or photos. However, you can find most of these services free of charge at public agencies such as WorkBC Centres and community job services.
In addition, employers cannot charge foreign workers for:
- Immigration assistance as a condition of being placed in a job.
- Costs the employer paid to an agency or anyone else to recruit the worker.
- A bond, deposit or penalty to ensure that the worker will finish a work term.
Read about Employment Standards for Foreign Workers
. Information is available in seven languages.
Any recruiter who contacts you on behalf of an employer in B.C. must be licensed in B.C., even if their business or main operations are located outside of the province. Recruiters who operate without a licence could receive significant fines.
Check a list of licensed recruiters
Employers need to know about your skills and experience and how you will fit into their workplace. Before hiring you, they need to ask questions about you that relate to the job. They should not ask personal questions that don’t relate to the job or questions that could lead to discrimination.
Generally, in a job application or interview, items related to possible areas of discrimination, such as your religious beliefs, place of origin or family status, should come up only if they relate directly to the job. For example, you should not normally be asked about your religion, unless you are applying to teach in a religious school.
Employers can ask you about:
- Your ability to meet job requirements, such as your ability to work night shifts, travel or lift heavy items.
- Any previous names, if required for reference checks or to verify past employment or education.
- Whether you are legally allowed to work in B.C.
After you have accepted an offer, you may need to answer questions about your age, family, health status or other similar topics. The information may be required for tax records, benefit and pension plans, and similar legitimate purposes. However, the employer should keep any personal information you provide secure and confidential.
The B.C. Human Rights Clinic outlines the types of pre-employment questions
you should not be asked. They also suggest ways to respond if questions do come up in a job interview. Read more about B.C.’s Human Rights Law.