Canada: Employment Conditions Of Foreign Workers

Last Updated: December 27 2012
Article by Nadine Landry

Employers frequently resort to the use of foreign workers. In some industries, this is practically unavoidable. Faced with the new reality of foreign workers, many companies have questions about how to manage the workers they hire and the specific conditions applying to them.


Many different circumstances may lead to the hiring of a foreign worker. Often, the employer knows that it will have to make use of foreign labour for various reasons, including local shortage of labour. At other times, the foreigner may apply for a position, while confirming that they are entitled to work here.

In all cases, the employer must ensure that the person holds a valid work permit before they start working. Remember that a person whose social insurance number starts with the number 9 is a temporary worker, and that the employer is required to keep a copy of their work permit on file. The company must also ensure that the employment which is offered meets the conditions contained in the permit (employer, occupation, place of employment, expiry date, etc.).


It is often advantageous for companies to set down in writing the employment conditions offered to their employees. This is particularly true when hiring foreign workers who are less familiar with the customs and realities of the local employment market. Moreover, to satisfy the conditions of temporary low-skilled foreign worker programs, including farm workers and live-in caregivers, the parties must sign an employment contract on the prescribed form. In addition to the salary and some other expenses, the employer must undertake to cover the worker's transportation cost to travel to Canada and back to their country of origin.

For skilled foreign workers, the offer letter or employment contract will be very similar to the document used for other hires, with a few differences. Among other things, this contract should be conditional upon obtaining a valid work permit and maintaining it during the term of employment. The employment conditions should be clearly set down in the contract, and any different treatment from that set out in the original offer should be documented.


The regulations contain an obligation on the employer to provide substantially the same employment conditions to a foreign worker as those set out in the initial offer of employment, i.e. the offer used for the initial authorizations (labour market opinion and job offer confirmation, where applicable) and for the work permit. The competent authorities may consider any positive or negative discrepancy of more than 2% as a departure from the applicable rules.

Employers are therefore wise to inform the authorities of any such change in the employment conditions. It is easy to imagine the possibility of a salary increase of more than 2%, the payment of a performance bonus, a promotion, cuts applied to all the employees, or a reorganization resulting in the offer of similar, but nevertheless different, positions. One must therefore be very careful when a change in the business affects a foreign employee or their employment conditions are adjusted. A breach by the employer may make it ineligible to hire any foreign worker for a period of two years. This includes the renewal of the permits of workers unaffected by the infraction.


It is preferable to cover other special conditions applying to foreign workers in the employment contract or the company's applicable policies in order to avoid any ambiguities. A prudent employer will generally wish to specify who will be responsible for paying the expenses incurred to obtain visas and permits, travel expenses, moving expenses and the conditions thereof, etc. Furthermore, if the employer provides or contributes to the search for temporary housing in the first few weeks, or pays for return trips to the country of origin, the conditions of such special arrangements should be set down in writing.

Similarly, if the employer invests a substantial amount in the ancillary expenses associated with hiring the foreign worker, it could be useful to provide for a proportional method of repayment by the foreign worker based on the duration of the employment in the event they decide to leave within a specified time period. The terms and conditions applying at the end of the employment should also be specified, including for the return home, the expenses for the sale of the house, and any penalties on a car lease.

Also, in order to attract talent, businesses sometimes offer language or local culture courses for the employee and their family members. One may also wish to consider paying for the tuition fees of dependent children to enable them to attend a school whose program more closely resembles the education system of the country of origin. In short, there is much room for creativity, but it is best to manage expectations from the outset.


A foreign worker holding a work permit for a specific employer, that is valid for more than 6 months, is generally eligible for the Quebec Health Insurance Plan. However, unless provided under a bilateral agreement between Quebec and the foreign worker's country of origin, coverage under Quebec's public health plan only takes effect after a 3-month waiting period. Private insurance should therefore be secured to provide coverage during this period for the foreign worker and the accompanying family members to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

The eligibility criteria for the public occupational health and safety program are generally the same for foreign workers as for Canadians. The same is true of the public employment insurance program. However, foreign workers having a work permit for a specific employer are not considered to be available for employment since they cannot, technically, seek other employment without first obtaining a new work permit. Their eligibility for employment insurance can therefore become more complex.


In Quebec, the provisions dealing with termination of employment of such legislation as the Act respecting Labour Standards and the Civil Code of Quebec are of public order. Foreign workers are therefore also protected by this legislation. However, frequently, the end of a temporary foreign worker's employment also means the end of their stay in Canada and the return to the country of origin. The employment contract and policies put in place by the employer on this subject may be useful in managing expectations and ending the relationship harmoniously.


Foreign workers are often hired to meet the critical needs of a business, but, in doing so, it is important for the appropriate documentation and requisite protective measures to be put in place to ensure this adventure is a happy and painless one. This will avoid needless risks to your business.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions