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Labour standards in Québec: What you need to know when hiring an employee

Are you looking to recruit international students or graduates to work in your company? Whether or not they come from abroad, there are various laws and standards to protect employees in Canada and Québec that you must adhere to.

From working hours, salaries and safety to equity and vacation pay, here is an overview of the main labour standards you must respect as an employer.

Act respecting labour standards: Minimum conditions of employment

In Québec, the Act respecting labour standards, administered by the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST), guarantees minimum acceptable working conditions for employees. This legislation applies to any business under provincial jurisdiction that wishes to hire employees to work either in person or remotely.

The purpose of this legislation is to ensure employers meet all basic working conditions for employees. An employer can always offer better working conditions than those guaranteed by the Act. But failure to respect the basic conditions in force in Québec is illegal and could result in a fine and/or prosecution.

Labour standards protect employees with respect to, in particular:

  • Minimum wage;
  • Working hours and overtime;
  • Breaks, vacation time, holiday days, sick leave and family leave;
  • Mandatory training expenses;
  • Travel, clothing and equipment compensation;
  • Dismissals and terminations of employment;
  • Psychological harassment.

Equity and unionization

Within your company, the Pay Equity Act requires employers to offer equal pay to men and women in similar jobs. Your employees also have the right to unionize and negotiate specific terms with you, which must be documented in a collective agreement.

Hours of work and presence

In Québec, a typical work week consists of approximately 40 hours, including a lunch break. But a lot of companies offer 35-hour work weeks. To facilitate family life and personal time, the most common work schedule is 9 am to 5 pm, or from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

The amount of paid time off depends on how many months the employee has worked. As a general rule, employees are entitled to 10 days of paid leave per year, from when they start working at the company. They are also entitled to eight paid holiday days per year. Pregnant women are entitled to 18 weeks of maternity leave, while the minimum leave for the other parent is five weeks.

Wage conditions: Minimum pay and payroll

To learn all about the various pay rates in Québec, from the standard minimum wage to the minimum wage for employees who receive tips, visit the CNESST website. Note that if you pay your employees on a commission basis, they must still receive the minimum wage associated with the work they do.

In general, employees in Québec receive a pay cheque every two weeks. But some employers choose to pay their employees every week. As an employer, you must ensure the following deductions are indicated on your employees’ payslips: federal income tax, provincial income tax, Québec Pension Plan (QPP), Employment Insurance (EI) and Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP). You can also include any company savings plan, union or group insurance deductions as well, if applicable.

Looking for fresh talent to join your team? To learn more about recruiting international students and graduates in Montréal, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Contact our expert

Mathieu Lefort

Senior Director, International Talent