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HR Policies in Canada

Establishing effective human resource policies requires finesse and an appreciation of legal subtleties. For instance, creating an HR policy to restrict workplace harassment must be clear but firm yet show an appreciation of legalities when implemented.

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Employment Law

Canadian employment and labour laws tend to be provincial in nature. Therefore, HR professionals within an organization in Canada must take into account not only federal legislation (such as the Canada Labour Code) but also provincial statutes such as minimum wages, hours of work, leave entitlements, and entitlements upon termination.

Some provincial law contains specific provisions regarding workers’ right to unionize and how employers must conduct themselves during unionization drives. These laws protect employees from unfair labor practices such as coercion, intimidation or threats by employers; furthermore they require advance written notice be given prior to dismissing workers unless there are justifiable reasons.

Other provincial law includes requirements related to health and safety, workers compensation and workers’ rights to refuse assignments or jobs. Depending on the nature of a business’s operation, employers may need to comply with additional legal regulations.

Staying up-to-date on legislation and employee needs can be time consuming for HR teams, which is why HR Policy Global can assist by creating custom policies specifically tailored to your company that will save time while assuring compliance.


Canada has laws protecting people against discrimination based on age, sex, religion, national origin or citizenship status, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability. These types of restrictions are illegal under Canadian Human Rights Act as well as provincial legislation; workplace safety regulations also forbid discrimination – employers should create policies regarding worker safety, privacy protection and sexual harassment prevention to ensure legal compliance of their policies.

Employees should also understand that there are strict regulations for severance and termination in this country. Employers can only terminate employees without notice or pay in lieu of notice if it can be proven that just cause exists; workers can only be fired due to serious misconduct. Employers should clarify between employees and contractors, as any confusion could result in fines and backpay penalties for both categories.

There are also various provincial regulations regarding worker rights. For example, in Ontario employers are required to post their Workplace Harassment Prevention Policy clearly within their workplace, along with creating and posting their Covid-19 Workplace Safety Plan. Furthermore, personal information protection legislation mandates employers gain consent before storing sensitive employee data – this requirement also exists under federal privacy legislation and similar provincial privacy statutes.

Labour Unions

CHROs managing employees in Canada face the additional difficulty of complying with different labor laws that vary widely. Furthermore, many Canadian workers are represented by unions and may have additional terms and conditions in their collective agreements that must also be respected.

Unions have been instrumental in shaping many of the workplace rights that Canadian workers enjoy today. Safe working environments and parental benefits were achieved as a result of struggles waged by workers using their unions to fight for them. Unions also provide employees with an important voice at work and serve as an information source.

Under the Freedom of Association section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, all workers have the right to form unions and negotiate in good faith with their employers over issues including wages, hours of work and other employment-related matters. If communication fails during negotiations, employees have the option of striking.

The Labour Program keeps tabs on labour organizations and unions across Canada, providing useful information like affiliations, membership size, locals and the presidents of each union. You can sort these listings by region, name or affiliation to quickly find what you’re searching for.


Companies without diversity policies miss a valuable opportunity to attract and retain top talent, as well as being at an inherent disadvantage in an increasingly socially aware marketplace. Diversity policies not only fulfill legal requirements, but are essential in creating more inclusive workplace cultures.

Establishing a diversity policy can help an organization increase minority employment numbers, which is beneficial to both business and the economy. Diversity policies aim to eliminate workplace discrimination and ensure equal opportunities for all employees, and involve several steps such as creating an affirmative action plan and training all employees on this topic. Furthermore, such policies must specify prohibited activities as well as how complaints will be responded to.

Canada recognizes the value of diversity in the workforce. Immigrants make up an ever-increasing percentage of its labor force, yet many companies fail to implement effective diversity initiatives, opting instead to hire visible minorities to meet Employment Equity Act (EEA) targets instead of attracting and retaining minority employees.

Companies looking to foster an inclusive workplace must carefully consider all aspects of the hiring process, such as job posting language and interview questions; interview questions; candidate evaluation processes and resume evaluation processes; creating training programs addressing unconscious bias and stereotyping and considering partnerships with local organizations that support immigrant communities as part of an inclusion initiative.

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