Frequently Asked Questions on Manitoba Employment Standards

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.

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

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 employment Notice period
at least thirty days but less than one year 1 week
at least one year and less than three years 2 weeks
at least three years and less than five years 4 weeks
at least five years and less than 10 years 6 weeks
at least 10 years and less than 8 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 (i.e., 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.

Read the Termination Fact Sheet.

There are 8 General Holidays in Manitoba:

  • New Year's Day,
  • Louis Riel Day,
  • Good Friday,
  • Victoria Day,
  • Canada Day,
  • Labour Day,
  • National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
  • 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 the total wages earned (not including overtime) in the four weeks before the holiday. All employees receive General Holiday pay unless they 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 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.

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. Read the Hours of Work and Breaks fact sheet.

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

Read CFIB's Busting myths about what you can deduct from employees’ wages and the Deductions from Wages fact sheet.

There are a few tools to consider:

Averaging Agreements

In non-unionized workplaces where the employee (or 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. The agreement does not need approval from the Employment Standards Branch.

Under an averaging agreement, the standard hours of work can be up to 12 hours/day and 60 hours/week over a 12-week cycle. The regular hours must average back to 40 hours or less per week.

When the agreement is in place, if the employer asks the employee(s) to work longer than the hours set in the agreement, overtime wages are required for any overtime hours worked.

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. There is also a template.

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.
Averaging Permit

When a business wants their new schedule to exceed the standard hours of work (i.e., 8 hours/day and 40 hours/week) or the maximums available with an Averaging Agreement, the employer must survey the affected employees about the proposed schedule. At least 75% of the employees must agree before sending the application to the province. This is not an option for an individual employee.

The Employment Standards Branch approves the Permit before the schedule takes effect.

The new schedule must always average back to 40 hours/week. Averaging Permits have an expiry date and the employer must reapply before the permit expires. Permits must be posted in the workplace.

When the Permit exists, if the employer asks employees to work longer than the hours set in the Permit, overtime wages are required for any overtime hours worked.

Individual 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 10 hours per day or 40 hours per week and it can be ended by either party with at least two weeks' 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. If the employer asks the employee to work longer than the hours set in the newly-agreed standard hours, overtime wages are required for any overtime hours worked. 

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. Read the Overtime fact sheet and section 18 of the Employment Standards Code.

Vacations and Vacation Pay

The rules about vacation consist of both the amount of time away from the workplace and vacation pay.

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

After 5 years of employment - Vacation is least 3 weeks of leave 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 the Vacations and Vacation Pay fact sheet.

There are 14 leaves employees may take 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.

For every leave (except the COVID-19 Vaccination Leave) employers are not required to pay wages. Federal programs such as Employment Insurance may provide income replacement to the employee. 

Summary of Leaves of Absence

Type of Leave Qualifying Period Length of Leave Reason 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

Public Health Emergency Leave

No minimum

As much time as needed

There is a specific list of circumstances related to COVID-19 allowing workers to take this leave. 

COVID-19 Vaccination Leave

No minimum

3 hours paid leave

Each time an employee receives a COVID-19 vaccination they receive up to 3 hours paid leave.