Employment agencies

Employment agencies must be licensed to operate in British Columbia

An employment agency is an organization or person who charges a fee to recruit, or offers to recruit, employees for employers. A licence is not required if an employment agency only recruits employees for one employer.

Find a licensed employment agency in B.C.


If you want to recruit or hire temporary foreign workers in B.C., you must be licensed as a foreign worker recruiter under the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act. You may require both an employment agency licence and a foreign worker recruiter licence to operate in BC. However, if you exclusively recruit foreign nationals, you may not require an employment agency licence. Visit Hiring Temporary Foreign Workers for more information.

Getting licensed: Use the following steps to apply for and maintain your licence.

You must complete and upload the Employment Agency Questionnaire (PDF, 193.5 KB) with your application.

 

Submit your application and pay the application fee

You must pay a $100 non-refundable application fee for an employment agency application.

You must provide the completed questionnaire and information about the agency, directors and work location.

Pay online with a credit card

You can complete the employment agency licence application online to reduce processing time and pay using a credit card (Visa, MasterCard or American Express). Note: Debit cards (such as Interac or Visa Debit) cannot be used to pay the application fee.

Submit an application online


Pay by phone with a credit card

If you want to pay by phone using a credit card, you can submit your application online first and follow the instructions at the end.


Pay by cheque

If you want to pay by cheque, you can submit your application online first and follow the instructions at the end.

Before a licence is issued, each application is assessed to make sure that an agency will operate in the best interests of employers and people who are looking for employment.

Applicants who previously had their licence cancelled may be refused another licence.

Attend an education seminar to find out about the responsibilities of employment agencies under the Employment Standards Act.

Licences can be cancelled or suspended if an employment agency:

  • Makes a false or misleading statement in an application for a licence
  • Contravenes the Employment Standards Act or Regulation
  • Fails to operate the employment agency in the best interests of employers and persons seeking employment
  • Fails to inform an employer with whom the agency has placed a domestic that the employer must register the domestic with the Employment Standards Branch

You should submit your employment agency renewal application at least 30 days before your licence expires. If not, you could get fined for operating without a licence. The Branch does not issue reminders when a licence is set to expire.

You can complete the employment agency licence application online to reduce processing time and pay using a credit card (Visa, MasterCard or American Express). Note: Debit cards (such as Interac or Visa Debit) cannot be used to pay the application fee.


Workers cannot be asked to pay hiring fees

Employers cannot receive money from someone who is looking for work. If an employer accepts money from a person looking for work, the money is considered their wages and must be paid back to them.

Employment agencies cannot charge workers to help them find a job, including:

  • Providing information about specific jobs
  • Contacting employers
  • Submitting job applications

An employment agency can charge money for services like advertising, immigration assistance, resume writing or interview preparation. They must not require people looking for work to pay for these other services as a condition of getting a job.

Employment agencies cannot pay others to help find a job for someone.


Employment agencies must keep accurate records of the employers and employees that they help

An employment agency must keep a record of:

  • Each employer they provide service to
  • Each person they direct to an employer for the purpose of being hired
  • Each person they provide employment information to

Agency records must be kept in English at the employment agency’s principal place of business in B.C. for two years.

If an employment agency has employees, they must also keep payroll and employment records for each employee for four years.