Employer's Frequently Asked Questions


Here are some questions employers most frequently ask about Employment Standards in British Columbia. The answers below are for general information only. If you have a specific question, please contact the Employment Standards Branch or return to the main Employment Standards web site.

Hiring Employees

If you are hiring a new employee, you should make any standards clear when you offer them a job and make sure the employee understands the job offer is conditional on meeting those standards. You cannot require an employee to change their appearance in a way that would go against the Human Rights Act - for example, you cannot ban religious headgear.

The Employment Standards Act does not require you to provide a job description. It is a good idea to give any new employee information about their job and what duties they are expected to perform. This way, if any dispute arises about performance of duties you will have proof that the employee knows what their duties were.

It depends on the training. If you require a general qualification such as Foodsafe, you do not have to pay for the training. If the training is specific to your business and you have promised someone a job if they take the course, you will have to pay for the training.

  • The Employment Standards Act says you cannot persuade someone to become an employee by misrepresenting the wages or conditions of employment. Offering to pay someone less after you have hired them and given them a reasonable chance to perform may be in contravention of the Act. You could be ordered to make up the difference in the employee's wages.
  • If the employee misrepresented their ability in order to get hired you may have just cause for terminating their employment. If the employee is simply unable to perform to your standard you may have just cause for terminating employment.

 

Termination of Employees

The Employment Standards Act does not take away an employer’s right to terminate an employee with or without cause. The Act requires that employees who are terminated receive compensation based on length of service.

  • If you choose to terminate the employment of one of your employees you must either give them written working notice of termination or compensation for length of service equal to the amount of notice the employee is entitled to.
  • The requirement is for one week's notice after three months of employment and two weeks after one year. An employee is entitled to one week of working notice or compensation for each additional year to a maximum of 8 weeks.
  • You must pay the employee ALL wages owing (including compensation for length of service) within 48 hours after the termination occurs.
  • Notice or compensation for length of service is not required if an employee is terminated for just cause or if the employee quits.
  • Related Factsheet: Termination of Employment

 

Deductions

  • An employer can only deduct money required by or permitted by the Employment Standards Act, or by another Act of either British Columbia or Canada. Examples of required deductions include those for income tax, Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance.
  • Any other deductions, such as union or professional dues, require the employee’s written permission.
  • An employee is not required to pay any of the employer’s business costs, including damage, breakage or loss.
  • Related Factsheet: Paying Wages

No. An employer must not, directly or indirectly, withhold, deduct or require payment of all or part of an employee's wages for any purpose other than deductions allowed by the Employment Standards Act.

 

Uniforms and Special Clothing

Yes, but you must pay for the uniform and clean and maintain it.

The Employment Standards Act does not say anything about dress codes. It is reasonable for an employer to require employees wear clothing suited to the business environment.

  • Any clothing that identifies an employee as part of the employer's business and is usually the same for all employees. For example, a golf shirt with the company logo on it or pants of a particular style made by a specified manufacturer or required to be bought from a specific place.
  • Any clothing the employee has to buy from the employer for work is considered a uniform.
  • Personal safety clothing required by the Workers Compensation Board is not a uniform unless it clearly identifies the wearer with the employer.

 

Leaves of Absence

  • The leave provisions of the Employment Standards Act include pregnancy leave, parental leave, family responsibility leave, bereavement leave, compassionate care leave, reservists’ leave and leave for jury duty.
  • Related Factsheet: Leaves and Jury Duty

No, it is up to you as an employer whether or not you wish to provide paid sick days.

  • The employee must be granted leave on request. Employees are entitled to up to 5 days of unpaid leave each employment year to meet responsibilities related to the care, health or education of the employee's child or the care or health of any other member of the employee's immediate family.
  • The employee does not have to provide details as to the exact circumstances surrounding the request but you may request verification that the leave is in fact for one of the purposes stated above.
  • The Employment Standards Act says that when the leave ends, an employee must be returned to her former position or to a comparable position.
  • If that position no longer exists and there is no comparable position, the returning employee can be laid off but must be given working notice or termination pay from the date she was scheduled to return to work.
  • Termination notice cannot be given while an employee is on a leave allowed under the Employment Standards Act.

 

Hours of Work and Overtime

  • If you require or allow an employee to work in excess of 40 hours per week you must pay them overtime. Even if the employee agrees to forego the overtime initially, you as the employer would still be liable for the overtime entitlement.
    (Any agreement to contravene the Act would be void)
  • Related Factsheet: Hours of Work and Overtime

Regardless of the method of compensation (hourly, monthly salary, annual salary, or commission earnings) an employee is still entitled to overtime and statutory holiday pay. The only exception would be if the employee were a 'Manager' as defined under the Employment Standards Act.

  • Employers must keep a record of the daily hours worked by each employee. The employee is entitled to receive at least minimum wage for all hours worked in each pay period.
  • Even if the employee is paid by commission they are entitled to be paid minimum wage (plus applicable overtime) for all hours worked. If the employee's commission earnings fall below minimum wage you would be required to top up those earnings to minimum wage.