Canada: Jurisdictional Summary- British Columbia

Last Updated: December 19 2014
Practice Guide by Blaney McMurtry LLP

All references are to the Employment Standards Act, RSBC 1996, c 113, unless noted otherwise.

HOURS OF WORK 8 hours per day max before overtime applies 35(1)

40 hours per week max before overtime applies 35(1)

These requirements may be extended or modified by averaging agreement, in which an employer and employee may agree to average the employee's hours of work over a period of either 1,2,3 or 4 weeks 35(2)

An employer must not require or directly or indirectly allow an employee to work excessive hours or hours detrimental to the employee's health or safety 39
EATING PERIODS Employer must ensure:
  1. That no employee works more than 5 consecutive hours without a meal break, and
  2. That each meal break lasts at least a ½ hour 32(1)

Employers who require employees to work or to be available during meal breaks must count the meal break as time worked 32(2)

REST PERIODS Employers must either
  1. ensure than an employee has at least 32 consecutive hours free from work each week, or
  2. pay an employee 1 ½ times their regular wage for time worked during the 32 hour period that they would otherwise be entitled to have free from work 36(1)

Employees must have at least 8 consecutive hours free from work between each shift worked, except in the case of an emergency. 36(2),(3)

Residential care workers who are required by an employer to remain on the premises for a 24 period must have a scheduled rest period of 8 or more consecutive hours during the 24 hour period BC Reg 396/95 22(1), and must be paid for each interruption at their regular wage for the longer of (a) 2 hours, or (b) the number of hours of work caused by the interruption of the rest period BC Reg 396/95 22(2).

OVERTIME Overtime threshold for employees not working under an averaging agreement is as follows:
  1. over 8 hours in one day – employer must pay 1 ½ times the employee's regular wage for time over 8 hours 40(1)(a)
  2. over 12 hours in one day – employer must pay double the employee's regular wages for time over 12 hours 40(1)(b)
  3. over 40 hours in one week – employer must pay 1 ½ times the employee's regular wages for time over 40 hours, where only the first 8 hours worked by an employee are counted each day 40(2),(3)

An employer and employee may agree to average the employee's hours of work over a period of 1,2,3 or 4 weeks for the purpose of determining an employee's entitlement to overtime wages ("averaging agreement") 37(1).

Employees may request for employers to establish a time bank and credit the employee's overtime wages instead of paying them out normally 42(1). Employee's may at any time request the employer to :

  1. pay all or part of the overtime wages credited to the time bank 42(3)(a);
  2. allow the employee to use the credited overtime wages to take time off with pay 42(3)(b); or
  3. close the time bank 42(3)(c).
MINIMUM WAGE Employers are required to pay minimum wage as prescribed by regulation. 16(1)

As of May 16, 2014, the general minimum wage rate is $10.25 per hour. BC Reg 396/95 15. In addition, there are separate minimum wage rates for live-in home support workers, live-in camp leaders, resident caretakers, farm workers, and liquor servers.
MINIMUM AGE Employer must not employ a child under 15 years of age unless the person has obtained the written consent of the child's parent or guardian 9(1)

A person must not employ a child under 12 years of age without the director's permission 9(2), and on permitting employment the director may set the conditions of the employment of the child 9(3)
VACATION Employers are required to provide an annual vacation of (a) at least 2 weeks, after 12 consecutive months of employment, or (b) at least 3 weeks, after 5 consecutive years of employment 57(1)

Employers must ensure that an employee takes an annual vacation within 12 months after completing the year of employment entitling the employee to the vacation 57(2), and an employer must allow an employee to take it in periods of one or more weeks 57(3)
HOLIDAYS Employers must comply with section 45 or 46 in respect of employees who have been employed for at least 30 calendar days before the statutory holiday and has (a) worked or earned wages for 15 of the 30 calendar days preceding the holiday or (b) worked under an averaging agreement at any time within that 30 calendar day period 44

Employees who are given a statutory holiday off, or who are given a day off in lieu of the statutory holiday, must be paid an amount equal to at least an average day's pay determined by the formula: amount paid ÷ days worked 45(1)

Employees required to work on a statutory holiday must be paid for that day 46:
  1. 1 ½ times their regular wage for the time worked up to 12 hours;
  2. double their regular wage for any time worked over 12 hours; and
  3. an average day's pay, as determined by the formula in section 45(1).
EQUAL PAY Protection for pay equity in BC is found under the Human Rights Code, RSBC 1995, c 201, s 12

Employers must not discriminate between employees by employing an employee of one sex for work at a rate of pay that is less than the rate of pay at which an employee of the other sex is employed by that employer for similar or substantially similar work 12(1)
LEAVES OF ABSENCE PREGNANCY – Up to 17 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave:
  1. beginning (a) no earlier than 11 weeks before the expect birth date, and (b) no later than the actual birth date, and
  2. ending (a) no earlier than 6 weeks after the actual birth date, and (b) no later than 17 weeks after the actual birth date 50(1)

Employee who requests leave after the birth of a child or the termination of a pregnancy is entitled to up to 6 weeks unpaid leave beginning on the date of birth or of the termination of the pregnancy 50(2)

Employee entitled to additional 6 weeks unpaid leave if they are for some reason unable to return to work after period in S50(2) 50(3)


  1. For a parent who take leave under s. 50 for the birth of a child, up to 35 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave beginning after the end of the leave taken under s. 50;
  2. For a parent, other than an adopting parent, who does not take leave under s. 50, up to 37 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave beginning after the child's birth and within 52 weeks after the event; and
  3. For an adopting parent, up to 37 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave beginning within 52 weeks after the child is placed with the parent 51(1)

Employees are entitled to 5 additional weeks if the child has a physical, psychological or emotional condition requiring an additional period of parental care 51(2)

An employee's combined entitlement to leave is limited to 52 weeks plus any additional leave to which an employee is entitled under s. 50(3) or 51(2) 51(4)

FAMILY RESPONSIBILITY- Up to 5 days of unpaid leave during each employment year to meet responsibilities related to (a) the care, health or education of a child in the employee's care, or (b) the care or health of any other member of the employee's immediate family 52

COMPASSIONATE CARE – Up to 8 weeks of unpaid leave to provide care or support to a family member if a medical practitioner or nurse issues a certificate stating that the family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks 52.1(2)

RESERVISTS – An employee who is a reservist is entitled to take unpaid leave for the period that (a) the employee is deployed to a Canadian Forces operation outside Canada or is engaged, either inside or outside Canada, in a pre-deployment or post-deployment activity required in connection with such an operation, or (b) the employee is deployed to an operation inside Canada that is or will be providing assistance in dealing with an emergency or with its aftermath 52.2(2)

BEREAVEMENT – Up to 3 days of unpaid leave on the death of a member of the employee's immediate family 53

JURY DUTY – Employer has same duties with respect to jury duty as any other leave 55.

Employers must give an employee who requests leave the leave to which they are entitled 54(1). Employer may not (a) terminate employment, or (b) change a condition of employment without the employee's written consent 54(2). Upon completion of leave employer must place employee in the same or comparable position as they held prior to the leave 54(3).

TERMINATION/SEVERANCE Employers must pay all wages owing within 48 hours if the employer terminates the employment 18(1), and within 6 days if the employee terminates the employment 18(2).

After 3 consecutive months of employment, the employer becomes liable to pay an employee an amount equal to one week's wages as compensation for length of service. 63(1) Per 63(2) the employer's liability for compensation for length of service increases as follows:
  1. after 12 consecutive months of employment, to an amount equal to 2 weeks' wages;
  2. after 3 consecutive years of employment, to an amount equal to 3 weeks' wages plus one additional week's wages for each additional year of employment, to a maximum of 8 weeks' wages.

Employer's obligations are also satisfied if 63(3)

  1. written notice of termination is given as follows:

    1. one week's notice after 3 consecutive months of employment;
    2. 2 weeks' notice after 12 consecutive months of employment;
    3. 3 weeks' notice after 3 consecutive years of employment, plus one additional week for each additional year of employment, to a maximum of 8 weeks' notice.
  2. a combination of written notice under subsection (3)(a) and money equivalent to the amount the employer is liable to pay is given, or
  3. the employee terminates the employment, retires from employment, or is dismissed for just cause.
EXEMPTIONS BC Reg 396/95 31 The Act does not apply to an employee who is a practitioner of:
  1. Architecture
  2. Accounting
  3. Law
  4. Chiropody
  5. Dentistry
  6. Engineering
  7. Insurance
  8. Surveying
  9. Medicine
  10. Naturopathy
  11. Optometry
  12. Real estate
  13. Financial services
  14. Veterinary
  15. Forestry

BC Reg 396/95 32 the Act does not apply to any of the following:

  1. A student employed by a board as defined in the School Act
  2. A student enrolled at a secondary school involved in a work study or occupational class
  3. A sitter
  4. A person receiving unemployment benefits
  5. A person participating in Youth Community Action while working for financial credit towards post-secondary tuition fees under that program

BC Reg 396/95 33 hours of work and overtime requirements do not apply to any of the following:

  1. A fishing or hunting guide
  2. A person other than a percussion drill or diamond drill operator employed in activities of staking, line cutting, geological mapping, geochemical sampling and testing or geophysical surveying or manual stripping;
  3. A teacher
  4. A noon hour supervisor, teacher's aide or supervision aide
  5. A person employed part time by an institution that provides training or instruction in a trade, occupation, vocation, recreational activity or hobby and is owned or operated by a municipality, regional district or the government
  6. A manager
  7. A tender vessel worker
  8. A guard, fire warden or fish camp worker employed in connection with a commercial fishing operation
  9. A person employed on a towboat other than a boom boat, dozer boat, or a camp tender
  10. A police officer
  11. A firefighter
  12. A commercial traveller
  13. An operator of a motor vehicle who is employed exclusively to transport either students or people going to church
  14. The master or crew of a chartered boat
  15. Employees of BC Rail Ltd.
  16. Live-in home workers
  17. Counsellor, instructor, therapist or childcare worker employed by a charity to assist with disabled persons
  18. Faculty member under the University Act or the University of Northern British Columbia Act
  19. Professor as defined in the Royal Roads University Act
  20. Instructor, counsellor, librarian or administrator employed by an institution defined in the College and Institute Act or by the British Columbia Institute of Technology
  21. A senior tutor, or tutor employed by the Open Learning Agency
  22. A night attendant
  23. A residential care worker
  24. A live-in camp leader
  25. Teacher staff member as defined in the Technical University of British Columbia Act

BC Reg 396/95 34.1 hours of work and overtime requirements do not apply to farm workers

This document is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should not act or rely on any information in this document without first seeking legal advice. This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any specific questions on any legal matter, you should consult a professional legal services provider.

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