Employing in Canada

Hailed as the ‘start-up mecca to rival Silicon Valley’, Canada is also the home of Niagara Falls, ice hockey and maple syrup. But for budding businesses — from the US and elsewhere in the world — that have their sights set on global expansion, the Great White North also has plenty else to offer. The business hubs of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal have proved particularly tempting to entrepreneurs.

Thanks to its low corporate tax rate of just 15% and the various grants, loans and incentives available (including the Start-up Visa Program for foreign business owners), Canada is consistently ranked as one of the top places in the world for doing business.

Not only that but the country is also considered among the world’s top 10 economies. One of the few countries to be affected by the 2008 financial crisis, Canada has been progressing steadily for some time now, and further growth is forecasted over the next decade.

Combined with the friendly, inclusive nature of its inhabitants, Canada’s economic stability and calm political landscape make it even more appealing to foreign investors seeking a reliable location to gain a foothold. Plus, almost 30% of Canadians speak French, which has achieved a growing status as a business language in recent years. But English is also spoken across the country, making it easy for international companies to do business.

Country Guidelines

An overview of employing in Canada

Canada is a federal state comprised of ten provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Québec and Saskatchewan) and three territories (Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon).

Employment regulations in Canada are typically exercised by the provincial and territorial governments. Labour and employment matters are principally within provincial and territorial jurisdiction; however, the federal government has jurisdiction over employers that are engaged in activities that are interprovincial in nature (federally regulated).

Québec is an exception and instead operates under a civil law system.

Salary currency

Canadian Dollar — CAD $

Salary pay date

Wages must be paid to an employee on the regular payday established by the employer. TopSource Worldwide employees are paid on the last working day of the month except for those employees
who reside in British Colombia, who are legally required to be paid every 15 days.


Please note that, under Canadian law, it’s important to be clear around bonus rules as if this isn’t clearly defined in the contract, bonuses can be deemed to be payable to an employee during their notice period or while being under a severance package. Our contracts of employment include appropriate wording to protect against this.

Social security system

The Canadian social security system covers all provinces excluding Quebec which has its own system. The Canadian social security system has two components of tax: Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and employment insurance (EI).


The healthcare system in Canada is publicly funded and standards are set by the federal government based on the Canada Health Act. Healthcare is delivered by provincially based Medicare systems.

Most basic healthcare services are covered by provincial health insurance.

Employer costs

Employers are responsible for deducting pension contributions, employment insurance premiums, health tax and workplace safety insurance. It’s important to be aware of all federal, regional and territorial taxes and contributions when calculating payroll deductions and employers’ costs in Canada.

Overall costs (2021)

Employer cost
Annual exemption
Canada Pension Plan (CPP)
5.45% (Deducted from gross pay + taxable allowances/benefits)
$61, 700e
Employment insurance (EI)
Employer health tax

*These rates are based on non-Québec employees


Employment insurance (EI) premiums

EI premiums must be deducted from insurable earnings by the employer to cover employee contributions. Employers are then expected to pay approximately 1.4 times the amount of the employee’s premiums.

Premium rates and maximums (2021)

Maximum annual insurable earnings
Rate (%)
Maximum annual employee premium
Maximum annual employer premium

*In Québec, the premium rate for workers is 1.18%, due to the additional Québec Parental Insurance Plan


Employer health tax (EHT)

The EHT is an annual tax on an employer’s provincial remuneration.

*Please note this is dependent on company size and is progressive based on payroll.

An overview of the main statutory benefits


Canada Pension Plan (CPP)

Any employee working in pensionable employment will have pension contributions deducted from their pay by their employer and cannot elect to stop contributing to the CPP until they reach at least 65 years of age.

It’s the responsibility of the employer to calculate how much CPP to deduct, using the annual CPP contribution rates and maximums.

Employers must contribute an amount equal to the CPP deducted from the employee’s remuneration.

The maximum pensionable earnings will be provided each year by the CPP. Deductions are stopped once the contributions reach the maximum annual threshold.


CPP contribution rates: 2021

Maximum annual pensionable earnings
Basic exemption amount
Maximum contributory earnings
Employee and employer contribution rate (%)
Maximum employee and employer contribution

Québec Pension Plan (QPP)

Québec employers deduct QPP contributions instead of CPP contributions. The contribution rates for QPP are higher than those for CPP.


If an employee cannot work for medical reasons, EI sickness benefits can provide up to 15 weeks of financial assistance of a maximum of $595 per week.

Maternity & paternity

A pregnant employee is entitled to up to 17 weeks (18 weeks in Québec) of maternity leave. This leave can be taken at any time during the period that:

  • Begins 13 weeks before the expected date of birth, and
  • Ends 17 weeks after the actual birthdate
 In Québec:
  • The leave may begin as of the 16th week before the expected date of birth, and
  • End no later than 20 weeks after the week of the delivery

An employee must provide their employer with a certificate from a healthcare practitioner confirming they are pregnant. They must also give notice at least four weeks (three weeks’ notice in Québec) before starting the leave advising the length of leave to be taken.

Employees are also entitled to up to 63 weeks of unpaid parental leave. Employees in Québec are entitled to up to 65 weeks of unpaid parental leave after the child’s birth. Furthermore, employees in Québec are entitled to unpaid paternity leave upon the birth of the child equal to 5 consecutive weeks.

Maternity leave and parental leave are addressed under employment standards legislation in each province. EI is available for employees who are pregnant, have recently given birth, are adopting a child or are caring for a newborn. Because EI benefits provide only a portion of an employee’s regular wages, many employers offer ‘top-up’ benefits to employees for some portion of their leave.

Enhanced benefits

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

TopSource Worldwide offers an RRSP scheme through Manulife. It should be noted that contributions are entirely voluntary both on behalf of the employer and employee. The employer can determine whether the employee will be required to match any employer contributions. We can work with our clients on this during the onboarding phase.

Health insurance

TopSource Worldwide can offer an enhanced healthcare policy for employees through Manulife which provides for extended healthcare, dental and also includes life assurance, accidental death & dismemberment and long-term disability.

Contractual provisions

Contract of employment

Please note that it’s important in Canada for employees to sign their contract prior to the hire date.

Probationary period

The customary probationary period is three months.

Working hours

The standard working hours of an employee in a federally regulated industry are:

  • Eight hours in a day (any period of 24 consecutive hours)
  • 40 hours in a week (the period between midnight on Saturday and midnight on the Saturday that immediately follows)
Federally regulated employees are all entitled to one full day of rest each week, which usually falls on a Sunday.
In most cases, the maximum number of hours worked in a week is 48. This can be exceeded in exceptional circumstances including permits, for emergency work, under an averaging plan or a modified work schedule.
Bereavement leave (paid and unpaid)

Employees are entitled to five days of bereavement leave in the event of a death of an immediate family member. They can take this leave over more than one period starting the day on which the death occurs and ending six weeks after the date of the funeral/burial/memorial service of that immediate family member.

In Québec, the leave must be taken between the time of death and the funeral. Certain days of leave could be used at the time of death and then, after a return to work, other days of leave could be taken during the funeral.

Vacation allowance

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.

Vacation pay is calculated as a percentage of the gross wages an employee earns during the ‘year of employment’. The amount varies between 4% or 6%.


Any hours worked in excess of the standard hours of work are considered overtime hours.

Overtime pay is at a rate of a minimum of 1.5 times the regular hourly wage for those hours that would apply, with the following exceptions:

Managers and professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, dentists, architects and engineers are exempt from overtime.

Compassionate care leave

An employee may take up to 28 weeks (27 weeks in Québec) of unpaid leave within a 52-week period to care for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death.

Leave related to critical illness

If an employee is a family member of a critically ill child or adult, they are eligible to take:

  •  Up to 37 weeks (36 weeks in Québec) of leave in a 52-week period to provide care or support to the child under 18 years of age
  • Up to 17 weeks (16 weeks in Québec) of leave in a 52-week period to provide care or support to the adult

This leave is unpaid

Additional leave

Employees are entitled to up to five days of personal leave per calendar year to:

  • Treat an injury or illness
  • Take care of health obligations or care for any family member
  • Take care of obligations related to the education of any family member under age 18
  • Manage any urgent situation that concerns themselves or a family member
  • Attend their citizenship ceremony under the Citizenship Act, or
  • Manage any other situation prescribed by regulation
 In Québec, employees can be absent from work 10 days per year to fulfil obligations related to:
  • The care, health or education of their child or the child of their spouse
  • The health of a parent or a person for whom they act as a caregiver

If the employee has been employed for three months, the employee is then entitled to two days of absence paid per calendar year for the reasons above, as well as under the following circumstances:

  • In the event of illness or accident
  • For their organ or tissue donation
  • As a result of domestic or sexual violence or a criminal act

Additionally, employees in Québec are entitled one paid day for the employee’s marriage or civil union if it falls on a working day. The employee is entitled to one unpaid day for the marriage or civil union of an immediate family member.

An employer may request that the employee provide supporting documents to evidence the reason of leave. This may be requested up to 15 days after the return to work.



Federally regulated employees don’t have to give their employer notice if they choose to quit. However, if the employer chooses to terminate a position, they must either:

  • Provide the employee with at least two weeks’ written notice
  • In lieu of such notice, pay the employee two weeks’ regular wages
 In Québec, the notice period varies depending on the length of the employee’s uninterrupted service:
Length of service
Notice period
Three months to one year
One week
One to five years
Two weeks
Five to 10 years
Four weeks
10 years or more
Eight weeks

An employee has the right to collect severance pay if they’ve completed at least 12 consecutive months of continuous employment before their layoff or dismissal resulted in a termination of employment. They’re entitled to two days’ regular wages for each full year they worked for the employer before their termination of employment. The minimum benefit is five days’ wages.

Holiday & Leave

Federally regulated employees are entitled to a minimum of two weeks of vacation annually after completing one year of employment with the same employer. After five consecutive years of employment with the same employer, the entitlement increases to three weeks of vacation annually.

In all provinces, employees are entitled to at least two weeks of vacation per year; in Saskatchewan, employees are entitled to three weeks per year.

A vacation pay calculator is available to assist in determining vacation entitlements. This calculator applies to the majority of employees in the federal jurisdiction.

Employees are also entitled to between six to 10 paid statutory holidays per year. If an employee is required to work a holiday, the employee is entitled to premium pay (typically time-and-one-half) as well as to holiday pay for that day.

Public holidays 2021
New Year's Day
Friday 1 January
Good Friday
Friday 2 April (National except QC)
Victoria Day
Monday 24 May (National except NB, NS, NL)
Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day
Thursday 24 June (Québec only)
Canada Day
Thursday 1 July
Civic Holiday
Monday 2 August
Labour Day
Monday 6 September
Thanksgiving Day
Monday 11 October (National except NB, NS, PE, PL)
Remembrance Day
Thursday 11 November (National except ON, QC, NS, NL)
Christmas Day
Saturday 25 December
Boxing Day
Sunday 26 December (ON)

Alberta (AB), British Columbia (BC), Manitoba (MB), New Brunswick (NB), Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), Northwest Territories (NT), Nova Scotia (NS(, Nunavut (NU), Ontario (ON), Prince Edward Island (PE), Saskatchewan (SK), Quebec (QC)

Public holidays 2022
New Year's Day
Satuday 1 January
Good Friday
Friday 15 April (National except QC)
Victoria Day
Monday 23 May (National except NB, NS, NL)
Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day
Thursday 24 June (QC only)
Canada Day
Friday 1 July
Civic Holiday
Monday 1 August (AB, BC, SK, ON, NB, NU)
Labour Day
Monday 5 September
Thanksgiving Day
Monday 10 October (National except NB, NS, PE, PL)
Remembrance Day
Friday 11 November (National except ON, QC, NS, NL)
Christmas Day
Sunday 25 December
Boxing Day
Monday 26 December (ON)

Alberta (AB), British Columbia (BC), Manitoba (MB), New Brunswick (NB), Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), Northwest Territories (NT), Nova Scotia (NS(, Nunavut (NU), Ontario (ON), Prince Edward Island (PE), Saskatchewan (SK), Quebec (QC)

Find out about Employer of Record in

United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Find out about Employer of Record in the United Kingdom



Find out about Employer of Record in Germany



Find out about Employer of Record in Spain

Get started

Keen to engage an EOR in Canada?

At TopSource Worldwide, we work with local experts to help you navigate the various admin and cost obstacles you may come across along your expansion journey

To find out how we can help your business with our employment solutions, contact us today.