Five Employment Laws That Every Business Should Know | Experienced employment lawyers strive to address the difficulties associated with labour laws. However, businesses have a civic responsibility to understand these laws and meet the requirements set by local legislation. Depending on nature, size, average payroll, and the provinces in which the business operates in, companies have to register with different provincial authorities to ensure revenue and tax requirements are met. Furthermore, these laws advocate employee well-being and mitigate the chances of unlawful exploitation. To avoid any legal action and protect worker rights, an employment lawyer can be consulted. Here are five important employment laws to know about.
1. Working Hours
The average work week is mostly 40 hours long. Most employees working above this are usually entitled to be paid overtime rates. However, most provinces have no regulation on the spread of this work week or on the number of overtime hours worked past the minimum. Most employees work eight-hour shifts, five times a week; or 10-hour workdays, four times a week.
In addition, without a limit on weekly overtime hours, it’s up to the business and the employee to come to an agreement. But, in some provinces, such as Alberta, the weekly cap is 12 hours of overtime. In Quebec, employees have the right to refuse to work if there are more than four hours of overtime per week. Businesses should consider hiring the services of an employment lawyer to ensure that they abide by provincial laws.
- Minimum Wage and Overtime
According to the federal government, regulated employees must receive 1.5 times their regular pay rate for overtime work. The minimum wage, however, depends on the province. For example, in Quebec, the minimum hourly pay rate is $13.10 if gratuities are not applicable. On the other hand, in the region of Ontario, the minimum wage is $14.25 per hour for general workers, $13.40 for minor students, and $12.45 for alcohol workers.
Unless agreed upon in a collective agreement or exempted by special laws, these rates apply to all employees. However, there are further regulations applicable to these, such as in some provinces, students can’t work more than 28 hours per week to qualify for the minimum pay rate.
- Special Rules and Exemptions
Management staff, including managers and superintendents, are exempt from overtime. Furthermore, professionals who require specialized education, work under legislature or independently are also exempt. This list includes doctors, architects, lawyers, and engineers, to name a few professions. Other than that, some occupations have trade unions that regulate overtime rates among other practices.
There are further exemptions province-wise such as rules for agriculture and domestic helpers. Therefore, it is important for companies to talk to a professional such as an employment lawyer to find out more. The definition of managers also differs depending on the profession and region, so specific research is crucial.
- Rest and Work Breaks
The general rule followed by most businesses is a minimum of 24 to 32 rest hours per employee each week. The breakdown of these hours, however, depends on provincial laws. For example, in British Columbia, employees must get 32 consecutive rest hours every week. On the other hand, in areas including Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and New Brunswick, the requirement is one day off every week.
Local law also takes into consideration that specific projects require consecutive work. Some projects have to be broken down into 28- or 35-day shifts, and for every working week, an employee is entitled to a day off. The total days off must be taken consecutively.
- Records and Data
Most businesses keep records of important things such as employee leaves, overtime, pay rates, and wages. Some data is required by the government as well in case of inspection later on. The average time data, especially payroll records, must be stored for at least three years for federal employees. However, depending on the type of information and provincial laws, this can differ.
For example, in British Columbia, data must be kept for two additional years after the employee has been terminated, and in Yukon, data is saved for only one year. This list is limited, and many other essential employment laws must be considered. Some of these include rules about how working hours are spread out, pay rounding, and paying for partial hours. Furthermore, maternity leave, termination, family leave, and ethical issues such as discrimination are regulated by the government.
Aside from local considerations, the laws for different professions also vary. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to consult a professional employment lawyer to ensure that the labour and employment laws of their jurisdiction are met. The consequences of breaking the law include facing charges for breach of contract in court, which can be very costly in terms of legal fees and damages.