The Canadian employment laws protect every worker in the country, which includes international employees and temporary foreign workers. Canada is a strong supporter of human rights and employment rights. Fair pay, rest periods, hours of work, working conditions and all other Canadian policies dealing with labour and employment must be followed by companies who employ both Canadian and international employees. Although these Canadian policies apply to all employees, foreign workers and companies that hire them do have other regulations to deal with.
A company who does not provide the same rights to international workers as it does for Canadian workers may be in violation of both Canadian law and human rights. This is especially true if an employer threatens to take the foreign worker’s passport or permit away, threatens to have him deported or change his immigration status, or attempts to pay the worker in goods or services instead of Canadian funds. Additionally, international employees cannot be forced to pay for immigration assistance, pay a deposit to ensure the work will be completed, or pay back any costs the company paid to recruit him. Companies who deal in labour exploitation of international employees can be punished with severe penalties, which include imprisonment.
For their protection, international employees hired by Canadian companies must sign a contract with their employers before they start work. The terms and conditions set forth in these contracts include pay, deductions, job duties, and conditions of employment, such as overtime pay and numbers of hours worked. The terms and conditions must be based on federal and provincial standards and must be agreed upon from both parties. The contract may be used to resolve issues if disagreements occur in the future.
Employer’s Duties When Hiring from Abroad
If an employer is hiring a temporary foreign worker for a position that requires lower levels of training, he must provide transportation costs both to and from Canada, private health insurance until the worker is eligible for provincial health care, and under specific programs, accommodations.
The Right to Change Employers
Although an international employee may have been brought to Canada by a specific company, he is still allowed to change employers as he sees fit, without penalty or risk of deportation. However, this new employer may need to get permission to hire the worker and apply for a labour market opinion, and the worker may have to apply for a new work permit.
Generally, an employer must provide written notice of termination and termination pay if dismissing a foreign worker. However, if there is just cause, such as serious misconduct, the employer does not have to give notice. If the employment contract signed by both parties states a specific end date, no notice has to be given. If an employer does not follow the law, the foreign worker can file a complaint with the labour standards office.
Health and Safety
International workers have the right to work in a safe and healthy environment. Canadian policies protect all workers from unsafe working conditions. If a foreign worker is not properly trained to use heavy machinery, isn’t provided safety equipment, feels unsafe when doing the job, or works close to dangerous materials, he is allowed to refuse the hazardous work and must still be paid until the dangers are removed from the workplace or the employee feels the problem no longer exists. Foreign workers must also be covered under workplace safety insurance in case of injury.
Foreign workers have the same rights as Canadian employees. However, other Canadian policies must be followed to hire international employees.