What Are My Rights As An Employee in Canada?

The relationship between an employer and their employees is a dynamic one – depending on the workplace, the industry, and the people involved, these relationships and the roles within them can vary greatly.

While variance is usually a good thing, it is important that the relationship between an employer and their employees remains consistent legally, and that the details surrounding the legalities behind these relationships are known by both parties.

By knowing your rights as an employee, or as an employer, you are able to avoid or contend harmful or unjust situations and keep yourself protected – and workers here in Alberta have specific rights at work that are protected by law.

Alberta’s Employment Standards Code

Our provinces Employment Standards Code was created in order to protect workers, especially those who are not unionized, from unfair or unjust treatment.

The act saw a series of changes and updates this year, being the first time the code has been updated since 1988.

A few aspects of the code that saw changes this year are: absences from work/leave eligibility (maternity and paternity leave, personal leave, long term injury, bereavement leave, etc.), averaging agreements, holiday time and holiday pay, termination, overtime, and minimum wage.

It is also important to note that workers in our province are also protected against discrimination (based on a range of characteristics such as race, age, sexual orientation, gender, religious beliefs, etc.) under the Alberta Human Rights Act.

When Does The Code Come Into Play?

Most commonly, the code is needed during employment disputes. These can be regarding anything from contract details, job requirements, pay issues, vacation and leave eligibility, overtime hours, wrongful termination, etc.

If you are in the middle of a dispute regarding one of these issues with your employer, or even if you are not sure, consider talking to an employment lawyer.

A lawyer can assess your situation and recognize whether or not your rights as an employee are being met, and can help you take the right steps needed to remedy the situation, whether simply providing legal advice or even assisting you in court.

What Are My Rights?

Of course you can’t be expected to memorize the entire code, but it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basics regarding your rights as an employee, and these basics are summarized in three key categories:

  • The Right To Know Every employee has the right to know of any hazards existing in their workplace
  • The Right To Participate – All employees have the right to participate in matters relating to health and safety
  • The Right To Refuse – Every employee has the right to refuse work if they feel there is added or unusual danger that isn’t normally present, including the hazard of discrimination or harassment.

You are entitled to a safe work environment and fair and equal treatment. Knowing your rights as an employee, or at least knowing who to speak with in the event that you feel your rights are being breached, is important in protecting yourself from unfair or dangerous situations.

Know what to look for and where to go for help – lawyers who specialize in employment law are there for you, speak with one today.


  1. https://www.heritagelaw.com/services/employment-law/
  2. https://www.alberta.ca/employment-standards-changes.aspx
  3. https://www.calgarycvo.org/know-the-code/

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