In Newfoundland and Labrador, there are various laws to protect workers. The most important is called the Labour Standards Act. The Labour Standards Regulations are available in English, French, Mandarin and Spanish.
If your employer is not following these laws, talk to them. If you belong to a union, talk to the Shop Steward. If you still have a problem, call the Labour Relations Division. To contact their offices go to the end of this chapter for further information.
The minimum wage in Newfoundland and Labrador is currently $10.75 per hour. This is the minimum amount an employer can pay you per hour. The rate is set to increase to $11.00 per hour in October 2017.
Hours of Work
The present standard in Newfoundland and Labrador is a 40-hour work week.
Time beyond 40 hours per week must be paid for at the minimum overtime rate. The minimum overtime rate is 1.5 x the minimum wage rate. The minimum wage rate is currently $10.75 per hour, which means the minimum overtime rate is $16.13 per hour.
Day of Rest
Employees must be granted 24 consecutive hours off work in each week of employment. There are exceptions in the case of employees covered by collective agreements, employees employed in remote areas and crewmembers of ferryboats and people engaged in emergency work.
Non-unionized workers are entitled to a one-hour rest period immediately following each five consecutive working hours. Unionized workers are covered by collective agreements or written contracts of service.
Employers must deduct money from your pay cheque to pay for the following:
Canada Pension Plan (CPP) – You pay money into this plan each month that you work. When you retire, you may receive a pension from the government.
Employment Insurance (EI) – You pay money into this plan each month that you work. If you lose your job, you may receive money from the government while you look for a new job.
Income tax – This money helps to pay the costs of both provincial and federal governments’ expenses.
Taxable benefits – Your employer may provide some benefits (for example, group life insurance plan, medical premiums, dental plan or pension plan), which are considered taxable benefits. The value of these benefits is deducted from your pay cheque.
Union dues – If you are in a union, and the union has an agreement with your employer, some money will be deducted to pay for the union dues.
Voluntary deductions – Your employer may deduct additional amounts for things that you have given your permission to deduct. For example, you may have chosen to make charitable donations, or to buy Canada Savings Bonds through deductions from your pay cheque.
Joining a Union
A union is a group of employees who join together to talk about wages and working conditions with the employer. In some jobs, all employees must join the union. However, it is also the case that some new workers must wait a period before being eligible to join a union.
If you have been employed for at least one year, you may be eligible for a minimum of a two-week paid vacation. If you leave your job before you take your vacation, however, your employer must pay you the money put aside for your vacation.
If an employee works on a paid public holiday, they are entitled to receive wages at twice the regular rate for the hours worked on the holiday or an additional day off with pay within 30 days or an additional vacation day.
If an employee is required to work fewer hours on the holiday than they would normally work, the employer must pay the employee at their regular rate of pay for the actual hours worked plus a regular day’s pay.
For more information on Public Holidays, go to Chapter 3
Losing Your Job
If you are laid off, and you have worked for at least three months, your employer must pay you one week’s pay, or give you a week’s notice of the layoff. If you have worked for a year, your employer must pay you two weeks pay, or give you two weeks notice of the layoff.
If your employer dismissed you for just cause (such as serious worker misconduct or other breaches of duties), the employer does not have to pay or give you notice. If you feel that your employer has dismissed you unfairly, you can file a complaint with the local Labour Standards Division. When you leave a job, your employer must give you a Record of Employment. You need this document to apply for Employment Insurance. You may not be able to get Employment Insurance (EI) if you have been fired, quit your job, or have not worked long enough to qualify.
A pregnant employee who has been employed by the same employer for at least 20 consecutive weeks is entitled to up to 17 weeks of unpaid Pregnancy Leave. She must give at least two weeks written notice. As well, the employee must provide the employer with a certificate from a medical practitioner stating the estimated birth date. Additionally, you should, upon your return to work, be placed in the same or similar position with the same duties, benefits and wages that you had prior to taking pregnancy leave.
An employee who has been employed by the same employer for at least 20 consecutive weeks before becoming the parent of a child or before having a child come into the employee’s care and custody for the first time is entitled to 35 weeks of unpaid leave. Parental Leave must begin within 35 weeks of the birth of the child or when the child comes into the care and custody of the parent for the first time. If you intend to take parental leave, you must inform your employer with a written notice at least two weeks before you plan on leaving, and at least four weeks prior to the date you intend to return to work. Additionally, you should, upon your return to work, be placed in the same or similar position with the same duties, benefits and wages that you had prior to taking pregnancy leave.
An employee who has been employed with the same employer for a continuous period of at least 30 days shall be given 3 days Bereavement Leave consisting of 1 day paid leave and 2 days unpaid leave. Bereavement leave must be provided in the event of the death of the spouse, a child, a grandchild, the mother or father, a brother or sister, a grandparent or a mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law or brother-in-law, son-in-law or daughter-in-law, of the employee. If an employee has been employed for less than 30 days, then the employee is entitled to two days of unpaid leave.
Sick/Family Responsibility Leave
An employee is entitled to 7 days unpaid sick leave a year if they are continuously employed for at least 30 days. You must provide a note to the employer signed by a qualified medical doctor if on sick leave for three consecutive days or more. In the case of family responsibility, an employee must provide a written explanation of the nature of the family responsibility leave if the employee is absent from work for 3 consecutive days or more.
Employment of Children
The Labour Standards Act places certain restrictions on the employment of children under the age of 16. An employer is prohibited from employing a child who is under 16 in employment that is likely to be unwholesome or harmful to the child’s health or normal development, or if it is going to hamper the child’s attendance at school. Before employing a person under the age of 16, an employer must obtain the written consent of the parent or guardian. This consent must be kept as part of the record of employment and the age shall be specified in the written consent. There are other restrictions. For more details contact the Labour Standards Division.
For contact information for the Labour Standards Division, go to the end of this chapter.