HR and HR Software Guide

Country Overview

Canada mainly has a service-based economy. The current GDP (PPP) growth rate of Canada is 3.0%. The threshold for foreign investment in Canada is CAD 5 million for direct investments, and CAD 50 million for indirect investments. Globally Canada ranks as the 12th largest exporter. The country is also a key member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1995. It also has extensive trading ties with many nations due to its bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). Due to an educated workforce, multicultural/multilingual coexistence, a thriving economy, and the government’s support for setting up business make Canada a preferred investment destination.

Currency: Canadian Dollar

Principal Languages: English and French

Government: Constitutional Monarchy

Capital City: Ottawa

Major Cities: Toronto, Ontario, Montreal, Vancouver, British Columbia

The standard work schedule in Canada comprises 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week. The maximum permissible limit for the weekly schedule is 48 hours.

Employees in certain professions are exempt from the 48-hour work schedule in a week. The restrictions on the work hours also do not apply to management-level employees and some high priority jobs without regular work schedules. Employees also may have to work on a modified schedule that may compress the total weekly hours into fewer days.


General holidays for federally regulated employees in Canada are as follows:

  • January 1: New Year’s Day
  • Good Friday: Last Friday before Easter Sunday
  • Victoria Day: Last Monday in May before May 25, observed as Patriots Day in Québec
  • July 1: Canada Day – Observed as Memorial Day in Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Labor Day: 1st Monday in September
  • Thanksgiving Day: Second Monday in October
  • November 11: Remembrance Day/Armistice Day
  • December 25: Christmas Day
  • December 26: Boxing Day

The following provinces recognize some additional holidays for which paid time off is required:

  • Alberta: Family Day – 3rd Monday of February
  • British Columbia: Family Day – 2nd Monday of February, unlike other provinces that celebrate the holiday; British Columbia Day – 1st Monday of August
  • Manitoba: Louis Riel Day – 3rd Monday of February
  • New Brunswick: Family Day – 3rd Monday of February, beginning in 2018; New Brunswick Day – 1st Monday in August
  • Northwest Territories: Easter Monday – The day after Easter Sunday; National Aboriginal Day on June 21
  • Nova Scotia: Nova Scotia Heritage Day – 3rd Monday of February
  • Nunavut: Easter Monday – The day after Easter Sunday; Nunavut Day on July 9
  • Ontario: Family Day – 3rd Monday of February
  • Prince Edward Island: Islander Day – 3rd Monday of February
  • Québec: Easter Monday – The day after Easter Sunday may be offered as a replacement paid day off to Good Friday; Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day/National Holiday on June 24
  • Saskatchewan: Family Day – 3rd Monday of February; Saskatchewan Day – 1st Monday of August
  • Yukon: National Indigenous Peoples Day/National Aboriginal Day on June 21; Discovery Day – 3rd Monday of August

The Holidays Act provides that, when Canada Day falls on a Sunday, the following Monday, July 2, is a public holiday, even though the holiday still is formally celebrated July 1.

Annual Leave

All the Canadian provinces have specific laws and regulations regarding paid leave governed by the Labour Code. Usually, employees in Canada are entitled to 2 weeks of paid leave if they have worked with the same employer during their first 5 to 6 years of employment. Subsequently, the paid leave is extended to 3 weeks annually.

  • Non-Québec Canadians:
    Full-time employees among Non-Québec Canadians are entitled to a minimum of 2 weeks’ paid vacation, which accrue annually. After completing 6 years in a job, employees are entitled to at least 3 weeks of annual paid leave. Employees get compensation for annual leave at 4% of their gross annual salary, or 6% of their gross annual salary when eligible for a minimum of 3 weeks of paid leave.
  • Québec Canadians:
    Québec Canadians get paid annual leave that is accrued annually. During the first year of employment, 1 day leave accrues per month. From the first to fifth year, employees are eligible for 2 weeks of uninterrupted annual leave. This extends to 3 weeks annually after completing 5 years in a job. Before the fifth year, employees receive compensation during their leave with 4% of their annual salary. Subsequently, employees get compensated at 6% of annual salary. A slightly different rule for annual leave applies to employees in the clothing industry, though it does not include retail employees of clothing stores.

Maternity Leave

Women employees who work for a minimum of 6 months with an employer are entitled to 15 weeks’ unpaid maternity leave under the Federal regulations. Maternity leave can commence any time 11 weeks before the expected delivery date and end after 17 weeks. Under the federal Employment Insurance Act, maternity leave benefits provide substantial income replacement for employees on leave.

Parental Leave

Employees are entitled to maternity and paternity benefits if they accumulate a minimum of 600 hours of insurable employment. This applies to employees who are expecting a child, have given birth, adopted a child; or nursing a newborn. Both parents are entitled to a combined total of 35 weeks of parental benefits, which they can use entirely for one parent or split between themselves. The same time period also applies to adoptive parents. A waiting period of 2 weeks is required before receiving benefits payments. Parents are also entitled to 50 weeks of paid leave when combined with sickness and compassionate care leave.

Sick Leave

Full-time employees in Canada earn sick leave at the rate of 9.375 hours per month for which they receive pay for 75 hours. For part-time employees, sick leave is prorated. Employees don’t get paid for sick leaves that are earned but unused, when quitting a job.

Sick Child Leave

Women employees can take 16 weeks of maternity leave and 2 additional weeks for each child in case of multiple births. Out of these 16 weeks, at least 6 should be taken immediately. The Canada Labour Code provides up to 37 weeks’ unpaid leave to employees to care for a critically ill child who is below 18 years. A doctor must support the fact of the child’s illness by providing a medical certificate.

An employee is required to work for a minimum of 6 months with the employer to be eligible for this leave. The concerned employee must take this leave in complete weeks. As with compassionate care leave, employees may be entitled to benefits under the Employment Insurance Act when taking unpaid leave to care for a critically ill child.

Bereavement Leave

Federally regulated employees are entitled to paid bereavement leave of 3 days if an immediate family member dies. A family member can be a spouse or common-law partner, the employee’s or partner’s parents, grandparents, siblings, grandchildren, or any other relative with whom the employee lives.

Compassionate Care Leave

The Canada Labour Code permits unpaid leave of up to 26 weeks to care for a seriously ill family member who has a significant risk of death within 26 weeks. Employees taking compassionate care leave may be entitled to benefits under the Employment Insurance Act.

Murdered and Missing Children

Federally regulated employees who are parents of children under 18 and who have worked for 6 or more consecutive months with an employer are entitled to up to 104 weeks’ leave of absence if the children’s death is due to a crime. In the case of disappearance of a child, 52 weeks’ leave is granted.

Reservist Leave

Employees under the federal jurisdiction can also get unpaid leaves of absence for serving in the Canadian Armed Forces if they have worked for a minimum of 3 months with an employer. The reservist leave can be for annual training or to participate in activities in Canada or abroad. Leave must also be approved to recover from any physical or mental health issue that have resulted from training or deployment. Employees can rejoin their work by giving the employer a minimum notice period of 4 weeks.

Pension and Social Security

Canada Pension Plan (CPP):

Employers are required to withhold contributions to Canada Pension Plan or CPP for employees aged between 18 and 70 years. Employers also need to make contributions matching the amount of employees’ contribution.

Effective from 2017, the CPP contribution rate for employees is 4.95%, and for employers, the contribution rate is 4.95%

Québec Pension Plan (QPP):

Employers must withhold contributions to QPP for employees who are 18 years and older. Employers and employees equally share the QPP taxes.

Effective from 2017, the rate of QPP contribution for employees is 5.4%. The QPP contribution rate for employers is 5.4%.

Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP):

Employees in Québec also get benefits through QPIP, which is also known as the Provincial Parental Insurance Plan, or PPIP. Employees’ age does not affect maximum insurable earnings for the QPIP. The maximum insurable earnings or MIE is the maximum income level up to which contributions are made through premium.

Workers’ Compensation:

Workers’ compensation is provided to employees who get injured or sick when performing their job responsibilities. In such cases, workers’ compensation serves as a replacement income.

Provincial and territorial workers’ compensation board administer this insurance. Usually, the provinces and territories set coverage premium rates, which vary based on the degrees of workplace risk in different industries.

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