Hiring Domestic Workers

A domestic worker lives and works in a private home. They provide services like child care, cooking and cleaning.

In B.C., domestic workers are not considered the same as other types of employees who also provide in-home services, for example live-in home support workers, night attendants, residential care workers or sitters. However, the federal government considers domestic workers to be live-in caregivers.

If you hire a domestic worker, you become an employer. You need to:

Employers must register domestic workers

If you are hire a domestic worker, register your employee with the Employment Standards Branch Domestic Registry.

If you're bringing a domestic worker into Canada on your own or through an employment agency, you need to:

  • Step 1: Register your intent to hire a domestic worker
  • Step 2: Within 30 days of hiring, provide the worker's name to the registry
  • Step 3: Provide proof of registration to the federal government

Employers and domestic workers must sign an employment contract

The employment contract or agreement must be signed before work begins. It outlines the terms and conditions of employment, including:

  • Work duties and schedule
  • Pay rate and payment schedule
  • Cost of monthly room and board (if allowed by federal requirements)

Hours of work

Employers create their employee's schedule based on the standards for hours of work.

It can sometimes be difficult to determine when a domestic worker is "at work" because they live in the employer's home. If a worker is asked to perform work duties outside of the normal work schedule, employers must pay for that time.

The employer must keep a record of daily hours worked, even if the domestic worker is paid a salary instead of an hourly wage. The employer can have the worker record their hours on a timesheet. Employees should also keep their own record of all the hours they work.

Paying wages

Wages must equal at least minimum wage for all hours worked, regardless of whether the worker is paid hourly or by salary.

Here's an example: An employee earns a $2,500 monthly salary to work 40 hours a week. To confirm they're being paid at least minimum wage:

  • Step 1: $2,500 x 12 months = $30,000
  • Step 2: $30,000 ÷ 52 weeks = $576.92 per week
  • Step 3: $576.92 ÷ 40 hours = $14.42 per hour (more than minimum wage)

Workers must also be paid overtime pay, statutory holiday pay and vacation pay. Daily overtime may not have to be paid if an averaging agreement is in place.

Wages must also be paid if a domestic worker goes on vacation with their employer and is required to work.

Wages are paid at least twice every month. Employers need to provide a pay stub at the end of each pay period.


Money cannot be deducted from an employee's wages to recover the cost of doing business or for damage to the employer's property (e.g. a broken vase).

Employers can charge up to $325 per month for room and board, if it's allowed by federal requirements. The employee must agree in writing before room and board can be deducted from their pay.

Annual vacation

Employers can choose when an employee can take their annual vacation. It must be at least one week long. It is not vacation time if the domestic worker goes with the employer on a trip or stays behind to work in the home.

Leaves of Absence

Employees are allowed to take a leave of absence for specific reasons. Most leaves covered by B.C. employment standards are unpaid, but an employee's job is protected while they're on one. In most cases, an employee doesn't need to be employed for a certain amount of time to take leave.

Employers are investigated if they break the law, or if they are dishonest or unfair

Human trafficking

Human trafficking is when a person:

  • Is forced to work or provide services they do not want to do
  • Works for little or no pay under poor conditions
  • No longer has access to their passport or identification
  • Has restrictions on where they can go and what they can do

Human trafficking is a crime – report it right away.

What you can do

If you're a domestic worker and your employer is not treating you right, see which government agencies can help.

If you're having issues at work, find out what you can do: