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There are a lot of rules about working – rules that your employer must follow and rules about how you should behave. Here are some things you should know about the working world.
When you get a job in BC, the law says that an employer must give young and new workers a health and safety orientation and training specific to the workplace.
Workers in British Columbia have four basic health and safety rights:
Watch this WorkSafeBC video to learn more about your workplace rights and responsibilities.
During orientation and training employers must explain:
For more on some of the safety risks you may encounter and your rights on the job, visit the WorkSafeBC website.
Sometimes workers get hurt on the job. WorkSafeBC helps workers who are injured or get sick because of their work. WorkSafeBC makes safety rules and sends inspectors to most workplaces to check if they are safe. Employers pay for this protection, so there is no cost to workers.
Workers who can’t work because of an accident at work or illness may get money. If a worker dies at work, the family may be compensated with money. Check the website of WorkSafeBC.
In British Columbia, the Employment Standards Branch (ESB) is the government department that is responsible for setting workplace standards for most employers throughout the province. The Employment Standards Act is the legislation that governs most employers in BC. This video provides a brief overview of the responsibilities of the Branch.
In British Columbia, the standard work day is eight hours and the standard work week is 40 hours. When you work more than these hours, you should generally get overtime pay.
Your employer must pay you overtime when you have no averaging agreement with your employer. An averaging agreement means that the hours of work are averaged over a period of one, two, three or four weeks. Your employer must pay you overtime if they ask you to work more hours in a day than you agreed to in your averaging agreement.
You are also entitled to overtime if your employer asks you to work more than eight hours in a day or more than 40 hours in a week. The amount of overtime pay you get depends on the number of extra hours you work. Your employer must pay you time and a half (one and one-half times your regular pay) for each hour you work after eight hours. Your employer must pay you double time (two times your regular pay) for each hour you work after 12 hours.
There is a minimum wage law for most jobs. Minimum wage means the lowest amount of money that the employer may pay you for your work. Both full-time and part-time workers have the right to the minimum wage.
The minimum wage changes from time to time. As of September 2015, the minimum wage for most jobs in BC is $10.45.
If you come to work as your employer asks you to do, you must be paid for at least two hours, even if there is no work to do. If you have an averaging agreement and you agreed to work more than eight hours in a day, you must be paid for at least four hours, even if there is no work to do.
You can work for five hours without a break. After 5 hours, your employer has to give you a break of 30 minutes.
There are ten statutory holidays in BC. Normally, on a statutory holiday, you take the day off work but you still get paid. They are called statutory holidays because the law says these days are holidays, and statute is another name for a law made by the government. The statutory holidays are:
Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, and Boxing Day are not statutory holidays. To get paid for the statutory holiday, you must have been employed for at least 30 calendar days and worked on at least 15 of the 30 days before the statutory holiday.
If you work under an averaging agreement any time in the 30 days before the statutory holiday, you automatically have the right to the statutory holiday.
All employers have to give you at least two weeks’ paid vacation every year. If you have worked for the same employer for one to four years, then your employer has to give you two weeks’ paid vacation. If you have worked for the same employer for five years or more, then your employer has to give you three weeks’ paid vacation. If you leave your job before you get your vacation, then your employer must give you some extra money called vacation pay.
Unions are for the protection of employees. A union is a group of employees who join together to collectively negotiate wages and working conditions with the employer. Everyone has the right to form a union if most of the employees want a union.
Your union and your employer will negotiate terms of employment such as pay, vacation time, sick pay, and other benefits. This process is called "collective bargaining". After deciding the terms of employment the agreement will be memorialized as a contract called a collective agreement. The collective agreement sets out your rights and working conditions.
Your union represents you when you have an issue with your employer. If you have a problem with your employer, then you can notify the union. The union will speak to the employer on your behalf.
Unions are required to follow certain rules The rules say what unions can and can’t do. In BC, the rules are written into a set of laws called the Labour Relations Code.
When you earn money from working, this is called “income”. You will have to pay a tax on it. You do this by filling out an income tax return. A tax return is basically your report to the government for a given year. While your return may show that you have to pay more tax, you may also be eligible for a tax rebate if you have credits for expenses like health care, child care or school.
If you are going to file your first tax return and don't know where to begin, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offers an online course to help you learn how to file a tax return. See also All about your tax return.
Income tax is collected by the CRA on behalf of the federal government, provinces, and territories. The deadline for filing your tax return is usually the end of April. There are financial penalties for filing a late return if you owe the government money. The best source of income tax information is the CRA.
The amount of income tax that a person pays is based on the amount of taxable income earned during the previous calendar year and any tax credits that have been earned. Keep a record of your income from all sources. If you work for someone else, they are obligated to send you a statement listing your income and any deductions that have been made for income taxes, employment insurance, Canada Pension Plan, etc. Use this information to fill out your tax return.
You can fill out and send your tax return on paper or electronically.
You can view and print out the Income Tax Package, or download the files onto your computer. You can also order a printed copy of the General Income Tax and Benefit Package, and other forms and publications.
To file your return over the Internet via CRA’s NETFILE service, you will need to purchase commercial tax filing software or have your return filed by a professional tax service. CRA will provide you with an access code to connect to their server so that you can send your data to them.
If you have a low or fixed income you may be eligible for. If you are eligible you will receive an invitation letter in the mail with instructions on how to access and use the service. If you are eligible, you will be able to file your return by answering questions over an automated phone service.
You can get the guide and forms for BC from any postal outlet or Service Canada office near you between February and early May each year. If you send in a paper form, include your information slips detailing your sources of income and deductions. Keep a copy, either paper or electronic, of your return for future reference.
After your tax return has been processed, CRA will mail you a Notice of Assessment showing any changes or corrections made to the tax return (such as identifying and correcting a math error). If you are entitled to a refund because CRA agrees with the calculations on your return that you over-paid your taxes during the year, CRA will issue a refund.
Got a summer job? Or just landed your first regular job? You should know that your employer has expectations about how you should behave on the job. Here are some tips for what’s expected in most workplaces:
IMPORTANT: This page provides legal information, not legal advice. If you need legal advice consult a lawyer.
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