Wages, pay and deductions
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Notice: On April 1, 2019, changes to Part III of the Canada Labour Code will improve compliance and enforcement measures. To learn more please consult Recovering unpaid wages page.
Employees working in federally regulated business and industries have certain protections related to payment of wages and other amounts. This section provides detailed information about employee rights and the steps to take if an employee believes that their employer has not complied with the provisions of the Canada Labour Code.
The federal minimum wage is the same as the general adult minimum wage set by each province or territory. Every time a provincial or territorial government raises its minimum wage, the federal rate for that region automatically increased.
For general information, please consult the Labour Program's Minimum wages (Pamphlet 2 – Labour standards).
Getting paid for your work
Wages must be paid to an employee on the regular payday established by the employer.
Any vacation pay owed to an employee by the employer must be paid at the time the employee takes their vacation. If the employment ends and the employee is owed vacation pay, the employer must pay it within 30 days after the employee’s last day of work.
In certain cases, employers are permitted to make deductions from an employee's pay.
Allowable deductions include those:
- required by federal or provincial law, such as taxes and employment insurance premiums;
- authorized by a court order, such as garnished child support payments, or by a collective agreement, such as union dues;
- intended to recoup overpayment of wages; and
- agreed to and authorized in writing by the employee, for example charitable donations, savings plan contributions, medical and dental premiums, life insurance and long- term disability premiums, pension plan or RRSP contributions, etc. To be valid, the proposed authorization should set out the specific amounts, purpose and frequency of the deductions to ensure that employees understand what they are signing and how/when it will affect them.
Employers cannot make deductions for money owed to them for property damage sustained or traffic tickets and fines incurred without the employee's voluntary agreement and written consent.
For general information, please consult the Labour Program's Deductions from wages (Pamphlet 13 – Labour standards).
For interpretations on the laws related to deductions, please consult the Labour Program's Deductions from wages or other amounts due to an employee (IPG-060).
Wage recovery assistance
The Labour Program’s has legal authority to help employees collect unpaid wages or other amounts (e.g. wages for hours worked including overtime, vacation pay, general holiday pay, etc.) or other amounts (for example severance pay and pay in lieu of notice of termination of employment) owed to them by an employer.
The Labour Program can recover up to 24 months of unpaid wages (up from 12 months).When employment or payroll records are not provided, the Labour Program can determine wages or other amounts owed using the best available evidence.
There is also an opportunity to request a review for those who disagree with an inspector's decision.
For general information, please consult Wage recovery (Pamphlet 11 – Labour standards).
An employee may file a complaint about unpaid wages and/or other amounts owed to them by a past or present employer.
To submit a complaint, employees should contact a Labour Program office.
For general information, please consult Filing a complaint (Pamphlet 1A – Labour standards).
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