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Frequently Asked Questions on Manitoba Employment Standards

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Employment standards laws set a basic level of rights for employees, such as hours of work, overtime, vacation, statutory holidays, notice of termination, etc. Some employers provide more benefits, but no one can agree to work for less than the minimum rules.

Which set of employment standards applies to my business?

Approximately 90% of Manitoba workplaces fall under the Manitoba Employment Standards Code. A great place to start is the Manitoba Employment Standards Branch.

The other 10% of workplaces – from the grain industry, air transportation, aircraft operations, highway transportation, communications – follow the Canada Labour Code. If your company is on the list of federally-regulated workplaces, read Part III and the pamphlets rather than the information shared below.

What changes came into effect in June 2018?

In Manitoba, Bill 20 received Royal Assent on June 4, 2018 and has made the following changes.

Parental Leave extended to 63 weeks

As of June 4, 2018, Parental Leave is 63 weeks instead of 37 weeks. For parents whose child came into their care before June 4, 2018, the leave remains 37 weeks.

Employees must take the leave in one continuous period. Employees, who have taken maternity leave and also wish to take parental leave, must do so immediately following the maternity leave, unless the employer agrees to a different arrangement.

This extension matches the recent changes to Employment Insurance Parental Benefits. Parents can now choose between standard or extended EI Parental Benefits.

Addition to Leave Related to Critical Illness

The Leave Related to Critical Illness is unpaid time off work to allow employees to provide care and support for a critically ill family member.

Caring for Critically Ill Child - Employees can take up to 37 weeks of leave within a 52 week period to support a critically ill child under 18 years old. Employees may be eligible to receive EI - Family Caregiver Benefit for Children.

Caring for Critically Ill Adult - Starting June 4, 2018, employees can take up to 17 weeks of leave within a 52 week period to support a critically ill adult. Employees may be eligible to receive EI - Family Caregiver Benefit for Adults.

Employees can take this leave in one or more periods, however, each period must be at least one week long. Employees must provide a doctor's note stating the family member is critically ill and requires the employee's support for a specified amount of time.

Employers must guarantee the same position, or a similar position with equal (or better) pay and benefits upon the employee's return.

Rules changed specific to hiring young people

The minimum age of employment in Manitoba has been raised from 12 to 13 years. Employers are not allowed to hire anyone under 13. Parents shall not allow anyone under 13 to be employed.

Anyone under the age of 16 must complete the Young Worker Readiness Certificate. A copy of the Certificate of Completion is signed by the parent/guardian and given to the employer before work can begin. The course teaches about Employment Standards and Workplace Safety and Health. 

There are some restrictions on the employment of workers under the age of 18. To see the rules based on age about the type of work and the hours of work, read CFIB’s What you need to know when hiring someone under 18 in Manitoba.

 

Adjustments made for Averaging Permits (when you want to change standard hours of work)

Bill 20 changed Manitoba’s Averaging Permits system. When a company's needs are not met with the standard hours of work (8 hours/day and 40 hours/week), they can consider a new schedule through an Averaging Permit or an Averaging Agreement. For both options, if employees work longer than the hours set out in new schedule, the employees must be paid overtime wages for any overtime worked.

Averaging Permit – This option was in place prior to Bill 20 and continues to be available. Averaging Permits are relevant when a business wants a new schedule that exceeds one or more of the standard hours of work, or cycle maximums for an Averaging Agreement. The employer must survey employees about the proposed schedule and gain at least 75% employee agreement before sending an application to the province. The Employment Standards Branch must approve applications before the schedule takes effect.

Averaging Agreement – When certain conditions are met, the province eliminated the need to receive approval from the Employment Standards Branch for a new schedule. Where employees work at least 30 hours/week, the employee (or group of employees) and the employer can create an in-house written agreement for a new schedule.

Schedules can up to a maximum of 12 regular hours/day and 60 regular hours/week. Schedules can be up to a maximum 12 week cycle.  The regular hours must average back 40 hours or less per week over the cycle.

At least 75% of affected employees must agree to the new schedule.

There are 4 examples of work schedules for an Averaging Agreement near the end of the fact sheet. Employers can also consider the template to set out their written agreement.

Averaging Agreements must:

  • Be in writing;
  • Be made at least one week before the new schedule begins;
  • Specify the employee or group of employees the agreement applies to;
  • Be signed by the employer and employee or by at least 75% of affected employees;
  • Specify the start and end dates, to a maximum of three years;
  • Specify the length of the averaging cycle, to a maximum of 12 weeks;
  • Specify the new work schedule to reflect daily and weekly hours; and
  • Be posted on the premise where the affected employees can see it.
     

As CFIB helps our members understand the employment standards rules, we find the most frequently-asked questions are on the following topics.

Termination of Employment

Employer's notice - Employers wanting to terminate employees must give notice of termination or pay wages equal to what would normally be earned during the notice period. The notice period depends on how long employees have worked for the same employer. Employers can allow the employee to work out the notice period, or pay wages in lieu of notice, or a combination of both.

Period of employmentNotice period
at least thirty days but less than one year1 week
at least one year and less than three years2 weeks
at least three years and less than five years4 weeks
at least five years and less than 10 years6 weeks
at least 10 years and less than8 weeks

Other laws can also influence termination, including the Human Rights Code, The Workplace Safety and Health Act, and the Labour Relations Act. Civil employment law can also have an impact. Questions about civil employment law should be answered by a lawyer.

Notice is not required when:

  • employment is for a specific period of time
  • when employees substantially control when they work
  • for temporary layoffs
  • when the employer can prove just cause that the worker's behavior was very serious and broke the employment contract (ie., theft, dishonesty, violence, willful misconduct, habitual neglect of duty, disobedience, conflict of interest).

Employee's Notice of resignation - No notice is required in the first 30 days. After 30 days but less than 1 year, 1 week's notice is required. After 1 year, 2 week's notice is required. Employers cannot keep wages from employees who quit without appropriate notice.

What are the statutory holidays and how do I pay my staff?

There are 8 General Holidays, including New Year's Day, Louis Riel Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Easter Sunday, Terry Fox Day and Boxing Day are not General Holidays. Employees who do not work on these days do not have to be paid. Employers have the discretion to treat these days as General Holidays.

General Holiday pay is 5% of total wages (not including overtime) in the four weeks before the holiday. All employees receive General Holiday pay unless the are scheduled to work on the holiday but are absent without the employer's permission, or they are absent without the employer's permission from their last scheduled day before or first scheduled day after the holiday.

In most cases, employees who work on a General Holiday receive General Holiday pay plus 1.5 times times their wages for the hours worked. However, workers in a gas station, hotel, restaurant, place of amusement, continuously operating business, climate-controlled agricultural business, or a seasonal industry receive regular wages for working a General Holiday if they receive another day off with General Holiday pay in the next 30 days. Read the General Holiday fact sheet.

What are the mandatory food and rest breaks?

Employees must receive a 30-minute unpaid break after every 5 hours of work. This is the only break required by the Employment Standards Code. Coffee breaks, rest breaks and other meal breaks are provided at the employer's discretion.

What can be deducted from employee wages?

Generally, employers can deduct from wages for:

  • Items required by law (income taxes, EI premiums and CPP premiums)
  • Payments authorized by a court order (garnishments)
  • Cash advances or overpayment of wages
  • Something the employee has agreed to in writing that directly benefits them (savings plan contributions, group insurance premiums)

Employers cannot deduct for:

  • the costs of damage to company vehicles, equipment and tools or loss such as accidents and parking tickets with company-owned vehicles
  • faulty work
  • customer theft
  • cash or inventory shortages
  • personal safety equipment (PPE), uniforms or special clothing
  • business supplies
  • educational expenses that only benefit the employer

If you need more information, read CFIB's Busting myths about what you can deduct from employees’ wages.

Are there ways to manage overtime costs?

Along with the Averaging Permits and Averaging Agreements discussed above (see "Adjustments made for Averaging Permits" section), there are two other tools to consider:

Flex-time Agreements

When the standard hours of work (8 hours/day and 40 hours/week) don’t suit an employee who works more than 35 hours in a week, he/she can ask the employer for an individual arrangement to adjust their schedule. The agreement cannot go beyond 40 hours per week and it can be ended by either party with 14 days' notice. Employers cannot use flex-time agreements as a condition of employment, nor force an employee into a flex-time agreement.

Example 1 - Mon 8 hours; Tues 8 hours; Wed 10 hours; Thurs 8 hours; Fri 6 hours

Example 2 - Monday through Thursday, 10 hours/day

The written agreement must clearly show the hours agreed to. See the sample agreement.

The province does not approve flex-time agreements, but will likely want to see the document if a worker filed a claim with the Employment Standards Branch. Read the Individual Flex-time Agreement Fact Sheet.

Banking Overtime

Employers can set up a written agreement with employees allowing them to bank overtime and take that time off later. One hour of overtime is banked as 1.5 hours. Time off is during regular working hours and must be scheduled within 3 months of it being earned. If banked time is not taken within 3 months of it being earned, employers must pay out all overtime hours at 1.5 times the regular wage rate. Insight is available from the Overtime fact sheet and section 18 of the Employment Standards Code.

Vacations and Vacation Pay

The rules about vacation cover both the amount of time away from the workplace, plus vacation pay.

After 1 year of employment - Vacation is at least 2 weeks and vacation pay is 4% of gross wages, excluding overtime.

After 5 years of employment - Vacation is least 3 weeks and vacation pay is 6% of gross wages, excluding overtime.

Employees are eligible for vacation once they complete 1 year of work. Vacation must be taken within 10 months of it being earned. If the employer and employee cannot agree when the vacation will be taken, the employer can set the vacation date, with at least 15 days’ notice. Employers can have vacations as part of an annual shut down.

Employers may put vacation pay on every cheque, or they may choose to pay out at the time of the vacation leave.

Read Vacations and Vacation Pay fact sheet.

What are the protected Leaves of Absence?

There are 12 leaves employees may take to deal with certain events in their lives without risking the loss of their job. Each leave has various lengths of time an employee must be employed before they can qualify. Employees tell their employers they need to take a leave. The employer will need enough detail to show the time off work meets the requirements of the leave.

When employees request time off, the employer should ask whether they are advising of a leave available under The Employment Standards Code or asking for approval for time off. Employers do not control when employees can take a leave provided by law, but they do control other types of time off work.

Summary of Leaves of Absence

Type of LeaveQualifying PeriodLength of LeaveReason for Leave

Maternity Leave

7 months

17 weeks

For an employee expecting to give birth to a child

Parental Leave

7 months

63 weeks

For parents to care for their new child

Family Leave

30 days

3 days

For an employee to deal with family responsibilities or personal illness

Bereavement Leave

30 days

3 days

For an employee to deal with the death of a family member

Compassionate Care Leave

90 days

28 weeks

For an employee to care for a seriously ill family member

Long-term Leave for Serious Injury/Illness

90 days

17 weeks

For an employee who has a long-term serious injury/illness

Domestic Violence Leave

90 days

10 days and 17 weeks

For an employee to address a situation of violence in the home

Leave for Citizenship

30 days

4 hours

For a new Canadian to receive their certificate of citizenship

Leave Related to the Death/Disappearance of a Child

30 days

52 weeks; 104 weeks

For parents dealing with the death/disappearance of a child that occurred as a results of a crime

Leave for a Reservist

7 months

when needed for service

For an employee in the Canadian Forces Reserve who needs time to serve

Leave for Organ Donation

30 days

13 weeks

For an employee to donate an organ or tissue

Leave related to Critical Illness

30 days; 90 days

37 weeks; 17 weeks

For family members to provide care/support to a critically ill child; For family members to provide care/support to a critically ill adult