Hiring silviculture workers

A silviculture worker is hired to help with reforestation – the process of replanting an area with trees (commonly referred to as a tree planter).

If you hire silviculture workers, you must:


Different rules apply to silviculture workers who earn a piece rate


Silviculture workers who are paid primarily on a piece rate basis have different regulations that apply to their work. The piece rate is per tree, block or hectare planted and must be stated in advance.


Hours of work, overtime and scheduling

The work day starts when workers leave the camp or pick-up point and ends when they return. Employers must provide a schedule.

Schedules are no more than five working days followed by a day off. Each month, workers must get:

  • At least two days off in a row

OR

  • Eight non-consecutive days off

Work in remote locations. If a work site can only be accessed using a temporary forest road or special transportation like an airplane or boat, the shift schedule can be adjusted to:

  • Up to nine days of work followed by at least two days off

OR

  • No more than ten days of work followed by at least four days off

The employer and most of the employees who work at the site must agree in writing to the shift adjustment. Employees with an adjusted work schedule must have at least eight days off work each month.

Working outside of scheduled hours. Employees are paid one-and-a-half times the piece rate or their regular hourly rate for working outside of scheduled hours or on a scheduled day off.


Working overtime. Silviculture workers qualify for overtime pay if they work more than eight hours in a day.

  Paid on a piece rate basis Paid a regular wage
Time worked over 8 hours, up to 12 hours

Their regular piece rate or time-and-a-half minimum wage (whichever is greater)

Time-and-a-half their regular wage rate
Time worked over 12 hours in a day Double their piece rate Double their regular wage rate

Meal breaks

Silviculture workers must not work more than five hours in a row without a break of at least 30 minutes. If a worker has to be available for work during a meal break, they have to be paid for the break.


Paying wages

Wages earned by silviculture workers who are paid a piece rate must equal at least minimum wage for all hours worked. If they earn less than that, the employer needs to top-up their pay. Higher wages from a different pay period cannot be used to offset payment of less than minimum wage.

Wages are paid at least twice every month. Employers need to provide a pay stub at the end of each pay period. A pay period cannot exceed 16 days.

Any bonus or incentive promised must be paid – for example, an end-of-season bonus cannot be reduced or adjusted for any reason.


Statutory holiday pay

An employer can choose to add an extra 4% of an employee's gross earnings in place of statutory holiday pay. This means that workers are paid their regular rate if they work on a statutory holiday and don't qualify for statutory holiday pay.

If this amount isn't paid on every pay cheque, employers must follow the regular rules for statutory holiday pay.


Vacation pay

An employer can choose to add an extra 4% of gross wages (6% after five consecutive years of employment) in place of vacation pay. This means that workers don't earn vacation time off. This amount is paid on total wages, which includes statutory holiday pay.

If this amount isn't paid on every pay cheque, employers must follow the regular rules for vacation time and pay.


Deductions

Money cannot be deducted from an employee's wages to recover the cost of doing business or for damage to property. For example, stashing trees, penalties for low quality assessments or damage to equipment.

Employers can charge for accommodations. If an employee agrees in writing, an employer can deduct up to $25 per day for camp costs or the actual cost of a motel room from their pay. If GST for costs is also deducted, it must be shown as a separate item on the employee's pay stub.

A worker's pay can be adjusted if they over-count their piece work. Wages earned must equal at least minimum wage for all hours worked. An employer must be able to prove that an employee over-counted in order to adjust their pay. Adjustments cannot be done on a group basis.


Keep daily records

In addition to other employment records, employers must also keep a daily record for each employee that includes:

  • The number of trees planted
  • The number of hectares spaced, weeded or brushed
  • The unit price per tree or hectare
  • Total hours worked
  • Daily camp costs

Each pay period, both the employee and the employer should sign off on the daily records.

Co-op agreements must be in writing. If a group of workers all agree to be paid the same amount for the combined efforts of the group, the employer must keep a written copy of the agreement.


Ending employment

Most silviculture workers do not get compensation for length of service or working written notice of termination of employment because employment is understood to be seasonal. Rules about group termination do not apply to seasonal silviculture workers.

All silviculture workers get compensation for length of service or working written notice if their job was terminated without cause and:

  • They were hired to work for an entire season
  • They worked more than three months
  • The employer still has work available

What you can do

If you're a silviculture 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: