Temporary Workers: A Guide for Employers

by Thom Tracy

2 min read

If your business is subject to seasonal spikes in activity, perhaps in the summer or during the holiday season, you may need to hire temporary workers. In addition to the usual rules that apply to any employee, there are specific elements pertaining to temporary workers.

Specific Rules for Temporary Workers

In Canada, employer-employee relations are usually covered by provincial legislation. You should check the local rules that apply in the province where your employees will be working. Even if the employment is temporary, you should always have a written employment contract that spells out the details of the job, such as hours to be worked, the pay scale, your overtime policy, and so on. With temporary employees, you need to provide a clear definition of the length of the employment contract. You should set out the duration of the job clearly and in writing to avoid problems down the road. The federal Employment Insurance program is also an important consideration for temporary workers, since, by definition, they will likely be unemployed at the end of their contract. As a rule, temporary workers are eligible for EI benefits. Their eligibility depends on the number of hours worked in the previous 52 weeks, and the required amount of hours fluctuates according to the employee’s status and the regional unemployment rate. As an employer, you will need to make the appropriate source deductions on the employee’s salary and pay the employer contributions. The same is also true of the Canada Pension Plan (Régie des Rentes in Quebec), along with almost all other provincial payroll taxes and programs.

Additional Considerations When Hiring Foreign Workers

In many cases, particularly for agricultural businesses, there is a great need for temporary workers that can only be filled by hiring foreign workers. This is possible in Canada, but there are special rules to follow. There are two federal programs for employers who want to hire temporary foreign workers. Details about both of these programs can be found on the federal government’s immigration and citizenship website.

  • The Temporary Foreign Worker Program exists to help employers fill temporary shortages. Before using it, you need Labour Market Impact Assessment from the federal government stating that you can hire the temporary worker. This verifies that there is a need for the temporary worker and that no Canadians are available to do the job.
  • The International Mobility Program is aimed at letting employers hire temporary workers without an LMIA. The IMP exemptions are based on broader economic, cultural or other competitive advantages for Canada and reciprocity with other countries.

Even though a temporary worker may only be employed for a short period, it is important to ensure that you comply with all applicable rules to avoid costly problems for your business. This is especially true of foreign workers, who should only come to Canada once the necessary visas and permits have been secured.

References & Resources

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