Canadian labour rights

This guide provides information sources on Canadian labour rights, both federal and for British Columbia. For topics such as discrimination, harassment, occupational or mental health, and workers' rights, information can be found in government legislation, legal cases, books, newspaper and journal articles.  Access for subscription databases, books and articles is limited to current SFU users.

Some resources for the general public aimed at the beginner's level are also included.  A good place to start would be the "People's Law School" since they have a number of pertinent "publications about work" in British Columbia.

Labour laws and legislation

Government websites

Labour in Canada is regulated by federal or provincial legislation. The jurisdiction depends on the specific business or industry.

Federally regulated businesses and industries include banks, marine shipping, air transportation, railway and road transportation, telephone, telegraph and cable systems, radio and television broadcasting, businesses dealing with many First Nation activities, private businesses necessary to the operation of a federal act, and most federal Crown corporations. For a full list, click here.

Provincial law sets out the minimum standards that apply to most workplaces in each province. For British Columbia, click here for guidelines to evaluate whether the business or industry that you are examining is covered by provincial jurisdiction.

Note: Certain professions and occupations are not covered by these acts. In British Columbia, chartered accountants, foresters, health professionals, legal professionals, licensed real estate workers, registered security workers, and veterinarians are regulated through separate provincial laws. See the regulations for specific industries in British Columbia.

Labour laws -- Canadian & British Columbia government

British Columbia Government. Employment Standards (getting hired/fired, hours of work, pay for work, etc.)

Guide to the Employment Standards Act & Regulation.  Get a section-by-section explanation of the Employment Standards Act and Regulation.

British Columbia Employment Standards Act
The provincial legislation that ensures that employees in British Columbia receive at least basic standards of compensation and conditions of employment. The British Columbia Employment Standards Act and Regulation sets out minimum working conditions for all employees covered under provincial labour laws. A number of sectors or industries in British Columbia are subject to specific regulations that only apply to them. Click here to see the regulations for specific industries.

British Columbia Labour Relations Code
The provincial legislation that protects the right of employees in British Columbia to be a member of a trade union and to participate in its lawful activities. The Code further delineates the rights of employees and employers.

Canada Labour Code
Consolidates federal statues that relate to labour, facilitating production by controlling strikes & lockouts, occupational safety and health, and some employment standards. The Code only applies to the industries which are under federal legislation.

Canada Labour Standards Regulation
Federally consolidated regulations related to respecting hours of work, wages, annual vacations, general holidays, reassignment, maternity leave and parental leave, bereavement leave, group and individual termination of employment and severance pay, work-related illness and injury in federal works, undertakings and businesses.

Human Rights Law in Canada
Website explains how workers' rights are protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act and other legislation.  It includes information on Employer obligations, Employment Equity Act, Employment equity in federally regulated workplaces, pay equity,  

Canada. Employment and Social Development

Federal Labour Standards

"While these publications provide basic information, they are not intended to replace the actual text of Part III of the Canada Labour Code, the Canada Labour Standards Regulations and other related regulations." [from the website]

E.g. Harassment and sexual violence in the workplaceMinimum wagesSexual harassment,  

    Work Safe BC for occupational health and safety

    "Our organization was established by provincial legislation as an agency with the mandate to oversee a no-fault insurance system for the workplace."

    "Since 1917, WorkSafeBC has helped to improve the health and safety of British Columbians in the workplace by building a sustainable no-fault insurance system that supports both workers and employers now and for generations to come.

    Working closely with our employer and industry partners, we promote a workplace culture of health and safety. We provide support for injured workers that facilitates their recovery and safe return to work. We continue to work toward our vision of a province free from workplace injury, disease, and death." [copied from their website]

    WorkSafe BC

    Canadian labour statistics

    Canadian labour statistics from the federal and the BC government]]


    • BC STATS - collects and publishes reports of statistics from Statistics Canada, provincial government ministries and agencies and from administrative files.
    • CANSIM (Canadian Socioeconomic Information Management) - Time series on a wide range of topics. Use this resource to compare time series over several years so you can perform further calculations using a numerical analysis program such as SPSS.
    • Statistics Canada - the major statistical gathering agency of the federal government. It publishes the "whole range of statistics on the economic and social activities of the Canadian people". There are daily, weekly, quarterly, annual and irregular publications. They also publish the Census of Canada at five-year intervals.
      • Labour
        • how many people are employed or unemployed; the unemployment rate; which industries or occupations people work in; the hours they work; commuting patterns; wage and non-wage benefits; job training; labour mobility;
        • work absences; unionization; unpaid work; and other topics. Also includes geographic and demographic characteristics.
      • Labour Force Survey - a monthly survey which measures the current state of the Canadian labour market and is used, among other things, to calculate the national, provincial, territorial and regional employment.
      • Labour Market Overview

    For more, please consult the SFU Library guide: Labour Statistics

    Academic books and journal articles

    This section provides guidance on finding books, journal articles, news stories, and reports on labour issues

    Find books

    The Library Catalogue provides access to books, journal articles, videos, government documents and much more. 

    [[collapse start "Find books

    Library Catalogue search guide 

    To limit the search results to "books", use the filter (left-hand column in search results) to "resource type" of "books." You can also limit by other resource types such as videos, journal articles, etc.

    Search the SFU Library Catalogue, either the Basic or the Advanced search

    Below are examples of how different keywords can be combined to search for topic.

    Proper syntax for Boolean logic (words that allow you to combine concepts)

    Combine different concepts using AND
    Combine same concepts using OR
    quotation marks to search for a phrase
    Use brackets for synonyms
    Use asterisk (*) for different endings of words

    Note:  For Catalogue Search, when combining concepts, use CAPITAL letters ( "OR", "AND")

    Look at the titles in the "results list" and for those books that look relevant, click on their subject headings to find more books on that topic.

    Find books by subject

    Browse by Subject    (change the default "title" to "subject").  Browse by Subject will only result in books, not book chapters or journal articles.

    Article databases

    Find articles in scholarly journals and newspapers

    Use these indexes/databases to locate journal articles on your topic.  Use the "Get@SFU" icon to find a copy of the article.  Limit search results to "academic / scholarly" articles.
    How to find journal articles

    • Sociological Abstracts - for articles related labor and employment issues
    • Business Source Complete - indexes business journals and provides a "business management" perspective on labour topics. A good place to start your search for academic or practitioner articles on labor and employment issues.
    • Political Science Complete - It has a worldwide focus and indexes journal articles on labour studies.
    • EconLit - indexes economics journals
    • CBCA Complete - indexes Canadian journals.
    • Canadian Newsstream  This database offers access to the full text of over 350 Canadian newspapers from Canada's leading publishers.

      Legal databases

      Use databases for legal information such as legislation, cases, legal commentaries and reports.


      CanLII database access to legislation, cases, commentaries & reports

      Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) database provides access to legal documents, such as legislation, cases, and commentaries, from federal, provincial and territorial governments.

      Canadian legislation

      Canada Labour Code

      For BC legislation, under "Primary Law", click on "British Columbia" for legislation (statutes, regulations), and links to courts and boards & tribunals. 

      Under "legislation", search for "employ*

      Employment and Assistance Act, SBC 2002, c 40, 7 Regulations
      Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Act, SBC 2002, c 41, 6 Regulations
      Employment Standards Act, RSBC 1996, c 113
      Employment Standards Regulation, BC Reg 396/95, (Employment Standards Act)
      Employment Equity Regulations, SOR/96-470, (Employment Equity Act)
      Public Sector Employers Act, RSBC 1996, c 384, --6 Regulations
      Workers Compensation Act,  RSBC 2019, c 1  -- 12 Regulations

      Canadian boards and tribunals

      For example:

      Canada Industrial Relations Board 
      Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board
      Labour Arbitration Awards 
      Occupational Health and Safety Tribunal Canada
      Public Service Labour Relations Board

      British Columbia boards and tribunals

      For example:

      British Columbia Employment Standards Tribunal
      Labour Arbitration Awards
      Labour Relations Board

      Search for reports: employ*

      For example:

      2020 CanLIIDocs 482 - David Fraser, Michael Murphy, Coping with COVID-19: Employer FAQs – CanLII Authors Program
      2020 (updated)  eText on Wrongful Dismissal and Employment Law, 2012 CanLIIDocs 1 (updated in 2020)
      2018  Report on the Employment Standards Act, CanLIIDocs 10529 
      Employment Standards Regulation, BC Reg 396/95, (Employment Standards Act)
      2018 Employer Health Tax Act, SBC 2018, c 42
      2018 CanLIIDocs 10545 -  Report: Roadblocks on the Career Path: Challenges Faced by Persons with Disabilities in Employment – Canadian Human Rights
               Commission Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disabilities Regulation, BC Reg 265/2002, (Employment and Assistance for Persons with
               Disabilities Act)
      2005 (updated 2014) CanLIIDocs 295 - David J Doorey, Employer Bullying: Implied Duties of Fair Dealing in Canadian Employment Contracts – CanLII Authors Program

      Westlaw Next Canada 

      Westlaw Next Canada for legislation, cases, legal articles and reports

      Current Canadian legal information, including cases, legislation, law reports, and journal articles. 

      Help guides and tutorials

      Included within this platform are: 

      Canadian Encyclopedic Digest -  is a legal encyclopedia in which legal topics are summarized. Important cases and/or legislation relating to each topic are included in the extensive footnotes.

      Canadian Abridgment Digest (CAD) - summarizes Canadian legal cases into a short paragraph or two, allowing for quick reviews of their relevance.  All abridged cases are organized by a classification system, allowing you to locate similar cases at once.

      Labour organizations

      Links to labour organizations and labour news

      Collective agreements & settlements

      Collective agreements & settlements databases
      • Business Council of British Columbia. BC Bargaining Database 
           Provides information of wage settlements, agreements, strikes & lockouts, etc.
      • Negotech [Open Access]
          Database of recent Canadian collective agreements.

      Sources for the general public

        People's Law School 

        People's Law School

        "is a non-profit society in British Columbia, dedicated to making the law accessible to everyone. We provide free education and information to help people effectively deal with the legal problems of daily life. [all annotations in this section are from People's Law School website]


          Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of British Columbia (AMMSA)

          "province-wide association that strengthens over 80 member agencies as well as hundreds of community stakeholder agencies who serve immigrants and newcomers, and build culturally inclusive communities, with the knowledge, resources and support they need to fulfill their mandates." [from the website]


          Canada. Employment and Social Development

          Government of Canada. Employment and Social Development

          Employment Insurance
          Benefits, Canada EI Commission, Wage Earners Protection Program, and economic regions.

          Workplace standards
          Labour laws, workplace standards, health and safety standards and labour relations.

          Public pensions
          Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security pension and related benefits, the Canadian retirement income calculator and retirement planning.

          Disability benefits
          Pensions, child benefits, savings plans, education funding, and gas tax refund program.

          Foreign Worker Rights
          Information and resources for foreign workers on rights and protections as workers in Canada.

          British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI)

          "BCLI carried out the Employment Standards Reform Project with the aid of an expert volunteer committee, carefully selected to balance employer and employee viewpoints.  Its members had great depth of knowledge and experience in relation to the Employment Standards Act." [from the website]

          Report on the Employment Standards Act [2018]


          WorkBC is the provincial government's access point to the world of work in British Columbia...helps people find jobs, explore career options and improve their skills.