Understanding Minimum Wage Rules

by Allisa Wu

3 min read

We often hear people talk about working at minimum wage, but did you know that there are different wage rates for different jobs? Most people know the general minimum wage for their province or territory, but did you know these rates are reviewed annually? In this article, we will take a closer look at how minimum wages are decided and how they vary across Canada.

Like all other minimum employment standards, minimum wages are particular to each province or territory.

Not only are the minimum wage rates different in each province or territory, the categories are different as well. For example, in Ontario, the wage rates are categorized by the types of work performed:

(1) general minimum wage, or those that do not fall into any other category;

(2) student minimum wage;

(3) liquor servers minimum wage;

(4) hunting and fishing guides minimum wage; and

(5) homeworkers wage.

Whereas in Nova Scotia, there are only two categories of minimum wage rates:

(1) experienced employees (someone who has more than three months of experience in a given type of work); and

(2) inexperienced employees.

Generally, minimum employment standards apply to employees of all categories, no matter if they are full-time, part-time, casual or those paid on a commission or by the hour.

Minimum wage rates are reviewed annually.

Every year, the Ministry of Labour reviews the minimum wage rate and takes into consideration the rate of inflation. Depending on the factors of the day, the wage rate may remain the same for another year or it will change. Since the minimum wage rates are reviewed annually, employers need to ensure that they are paying the employees the correct wage rate and that payroll records are adjusted accordingly. For reference, the Retail Council of Canada has created an informative webpage tracking the upcoming minimum wage increases for 2015.

Paying anything under the minimum wage rate is a violation of law.

If an employer is found underpaying an employee, the employee may resort to legal venues for the unpaid or underpaid wages. In certain provinces, such as Ontario, the Ministry of Labour conducts random inspection blitzes, where the Ministry sends inspectors to businesses for unannounced audits. To protect your business from potential penalties or employee claims, it is of utmost importance to abide by the provincial minimum wage rules and to ensure all other minimum employment standards are met.

Resources:

If you are unsure if your business is meeting all the minimum requirements, it would be prudent to conduct some research on your provincial or territorial website for minimum standards or contact the Ministry of Labour (or the equivalent, since the name differs per province or territory) for further information. You can refer to our starter list of resources below.

Although meeting the minimum wage requirements is not difficult, making sure that all other minimum employment standards are met may be more tasking. It is therefore recommended that you work with an employment lawyer to protect yourself from possible employment violations.

British Columbia:

Minimum Wage Fact SheetMinistry of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training

Alberta:

Minimum Wage Facts and Frequently Asked QuestionsMinistry of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour

Manitoba:

Minimum Wage Fact SheetManitoba Labour and Immigration

New Brunswick:

Fact Sheet: Minimum Wage, Overtime, and Minimum Reporting WageMinistry of Post-Secondary Education, Training, and Labour

Newfoundland and Labrador:

Payment of Wages and DeductionsLabour Relations Agency

Nova Scotia:

Minimum Wage FAQLabour and Advanced Education

Ontario:

Minimum Wage GuideMinistry of Labour

Prince Edward Island:

Minimum Wage OrderDepartment of Justice and Public Safety

Quebec:

Wages Facts and Frequently Asked QuestionsCommission des normes du travail

Saskatchewan:

Minimum Wage and Minimum Call-Out PayGovernment of Saskatchewan

Northwest Territories:

Employment Standards: Frequently Asked QuestionsEducation, Culture and Employment

Nunavut:

According to a news report by the CBC, the Nunavut government plans to review the territory’s minimum wage by the end of the year, however, the government website has no specific information on Nunavut minimum wage facts or frequently asked questions.

Yukon:

Fair Wage ScheduleDepartment of Community Services

Photo Copyright: Andrey_Popov

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