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Employment Rights and Standards


You have rights in the workplace. Employment standards are the minimum standards established by law that define and guarantee rights in the workplace. Each province and territory has its own legislation.

Most workers in Canada (about 90 percent) are protected by the employment laws of their province or territory. The remainder are in jobs covered by federal laws.

Employment standards legislation covers rights in areas such as hours of work, overtime pay, minimum wage, vacation time and vacation pay, public holidays, coffee and meal breaks, pregnancy leave and parental leave, personal emergency leave, family medical leave, termination notice, termination without cause and termination pay.

Human rights laws also protect against discrimination in the workplace.

See Worker's Rights in Canada for additional information.


Q - What should I do if I think my employment rights have been violated?

A - If you feel that you have been treated differently as a result of disclosing to one person or because someone has shared information about your illness, there are several options:

  • Ask yourself: am I being discriminated against on the basis of one of the protected grounds of discrimination (i.e. disability, race etc.).
  • Speak with the discriminator, request a meeting with someone higher up in your organization, or write a letter of complaint
  • Write down all of the events, conversations or situations that make you think you have been, or are being, discriminated against. Make sure you include who was involved, what happened, and when each event happened (date and time). Gather anything that will support your story– documents, memos, names of people who witnessed events, performance reviews, e-mail print outs etc.
  • If you have questions, talk to somebody. If you have a Union Representative, contact them and ask for information and support.
  • Find out if there is a complaints process at your workplace or through your union. Check your employee handbook, collective agreement, or talk to someone in the human resources department to find out what the complaints process is. If there is no process, or if you are unable to find out what that process is, you can write a letter of complaint to whoever you think is the best person to talk to. Make sure you do everything in writing, and ask that they reply in writing within a certain period of time. Make sure you keep a copy of the letter for your files and that you put a date on everything that you send.
  • If writing letters or filing a complaint with your employer is unsuccessful, there are other options. You can file a human rights complaint with your local Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, or you can launch a civil lawsuit.
  • You may also want to seek additional support from your local disability organization.

For additional information, see the AIDS Calgary Awareness Association Employment and HIV/AIDS Fact Sheet

Q - What should I do if I think my workplace employment standards have been violated?

A - If you feel that your employment standards have been violated without your consent, contact the employment standards agency in your province or territory.

Q - How do I find out if my company is federally regulated or provincially regulated?

A - Here is a list of federally regulated industries, followed by a list of provincially regulated industries. If your company is not in the list of federally regulated industries then it is provincially regulated.

Federally regulated industries

Provincial and Territorial Ministries of Labour


Sponsored By:
Mac AIDs Fund Logo
This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability component.

Realize (formerly CWGHR) also acknowledges the financial support of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the Public Health Agency of Canada