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. 

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.

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. 

Labour laws -- Canadian & British Columbia government

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]

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
Workers' rights are protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act and other legislation.  

British Columbia Government. 

Employment Standards 

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.

Work Safe BC for occupational health and safety

WorkSafe BC - - 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.

Canadian labour statistics

See the 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
Use 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.