Foreign workers and domestic workers have rights under BC employment law.
A foreign worker is someone who is from another country, but in Canada to provide specific employment services. The Temporary Foreign Worker Program allows Canadian employers to hire foreign nationals to fill temporary labour and skill shortages when qualified Canadian citizens or permanent residents are not available.
A domestic worker is someone who works within the household of their employer, usually providing care for family members and/or cleaning services. Domestic workers must have a written work agreement which lists your duties, hours of work, wages and what you are charged for room and board. The maximum charge for room and board is $325 per month. Employers must provide a copy of this agreement to the domestic worker.
Foreign workers and domestic workers have the right to overtime pay, paid holidays, paid annual vacations, and the minimum wage. If you work more hours than your work agreement says, then you must be paid extra for these hours. If working more hours means that you work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week, then the extra pay must be paid at overtime rates.
Your employer must pay you in Canadian dollars by cheque, money order, or by directly depositing your wages into your bank account. Your employer cannot provide you with material items or services instead of money.
Your employer cannot demand you to pay back any costs that were paid to an employment agency or anyone else to recruit you.
Your employer may only deduct wages as required by law (for example, income tax, Canada Pension Plan contributions, Employment Insurance premiums, or union dues).
Your employer may deduct advances and overpayments from your wages only if you give your written agreement.
Your employer may fire you, but must give you notice in advance. If your employer fires you without notice, then he or she must pay you compensation or severance pay.
Your employer or an employment agency cannot force you to return to your country of origin if your employer ends your work contract before your work permit expires or if you find a job with another employer.
Only the Government of Canada has the legal authority to return you to your home country.
Your employer cannot fire you if you file an Employment Standards complaint, or otherwise punish you at work. For example, if you have filed an Employment Standards complaint against your employer, then he or she cannot suddenly cut your work hours from 35 hours per week to 5 hours per week without a good reason for the reduction.
This article is a brief introduction to some of the laws about foreign workers and domestic workers in BC. For more detailed information, go to the website of the Employment Standards Branch at: www.labour.gov.bc.ca/esb/ or see Temporary foreign workers – Your rights are protected.
Last reviewed: March 2016
IMPORTANT: This page provides legal information, not legal advice. If you need legal advice consult a lawyer.
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