Your Brief Guide to the Employment Standards Act in BC

Your Brief Guide to the Employment Standards Act in BC

Does your staffing firm have operations in British Columbia? Maybe you’re planning to expand into Canada’s westernmost province this year. If so, you’ll want to become familiar with the provisions of the Employment Standards Act.

This guide will walk you through some of the basics to help you get started.

Minimum Wage and Overtime in BC

Like other provinces, BC mandates a minimum wage to be paid to all workers. The province has been slowly increasing the minimum with a series of scheduled changes. The most recent increase happened in June 2018.

The current minimum wage is $12.65 per hour. Liquor servers have a lower legislated wage, earning $11.40 per hour.

The Act also outlines minimum daily pay. Under this provision, a worker must be paid a minimum of two hours’ wages when they report to work. If they work less than two hours, they still must be paid for two hours. If you send them home or they need to stop work for a reason beyond their control, you must also meet the minimum daily pay requirement.

Overtime provisions are laid out in the Act. You must pay time-and-a-half after eight hours of work. Double time is paid after 12 hours worked in a day.

Workers who exceed 40 hours of work per week are also entitled to overtime pay. Only the first eight hours of a shift count towards the 40-hour workweek.


Breaks and Leaves

BC’s labour legislation contains rules pertaining to breaks. The Act states that employees are entitled to a 30-minute meal break if they work more than five consecutive hours. This break is unpaid unless the employee is required to work or be available.

You don’t need to provide coffee breaks, whether they’re paid or unpaid.

Annual vacation is also outlined. After one year of employment, an employee is entitled to two weeks of paid vacation. This increases to three weeks after five years of service.

Vacations must be scheduled in weekly periods unless the employee requests otherwise. Finally, vacation has to be taken within 12 months of being earned.

The rates of pay for vacation are four percent for employees with less than five years of service and six percent for those with more than five years’ service.

The Act also requires employers to provide unpaid leaves. These include pregnancy leave, parental leave, bereavement leave, and compassionate care leave.


Payroll Rules

The Government of British Columbia mandates that employers pay employees at least twice monthly. The Act also says pay periods can’t be longer than 16 days.

You must provide paper or electronic statements of pay to your employees. This should give information about hours worked, the rate of pay, earnings, and deductions. You’re required to keep payroll records for two years after an employee leaves the company to remain compliant.

You must pay employees in full within 48 hours of terminating them. If the employee quits, you have six days to make payment. This includes weekends and holidays.

You’ll also need to make payroll deductions, which are outlined in the Act. These include income tax, Employment Insurance, and Canadian Pension Plan deductions.

If you wish to deduct other amounts, such as a co-pay for benefits, you’ll need the employee to agree in writing.

The law prohibits you from docking an employee’s pay for losses, such as cash shortages or customers leaving without paying.


Holiday Pay

BC has 10 statutory holidays. Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, and Boxing Day are not statutory. To qualify for holiday pay, an employee must have been employed for at least 30 days and have worked at least 15 of those days.

These are just some of the basic provisions of the Employment Standards Act. The best thing you can do is to become familiar with it and partner with a back office provider who knows the ins and outs.