This article was last updated on March 21, 2023
Employment rights for a foreign worker in Canada
In Canada, all individuals have the right to equitable treatment in the workplace, without discrimination or abuse. Federal labor laws, such as the Canada Labour Code, outline the rights and obligations of employers and employees in federally regulated sectors, while provincial and territorial laws cover most other occupations.
The Employment Equity Act and Federal Contractors Program mandate that employers in federally regulated businesses and organizations provide equal employment opportunities for women, Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, and visible minorities.
Foreign workers are also protected by Canadian labor laws, including the right to fair compensation, a safe workplace, and possession of their passport and work permit. Employers must provide employees with a copy of their employment agreement, and it must be signed by both parties and written in English or French.
Employers are required to provide a safe workplace and necessary training, including equipment, to ensure the safety of their employees. Employees have the right to refuse to work under dangerous conditions and cannot be terminated or denied pay for doing so. Any reports of danger in the workplace must be investigated by the employer.
Employees are entitled to a workplace free of abuse, including physical, sexual, psychological, or financial abuse. Any behavior that scares, controls, or isolates an employee is considered abuse.
The duty to accommodate requires employers to make necessary changes to an employee’s work environment or duties to reduce or prevent discrimination based on the grounds of discrimination outlined in the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Employees who experience employment issues, such as unsafe working conditions, unfair treatment, or unpaid wages, should contact their provincial or territorial workplace health and safety office or employment standards office. Most provinces and territories offer workers compensation benefits to compensate for lost wages due to work-related injury or illness, and employers cannot prohibit employees from making a workers’ compensation claim.