Foreign Workers – General Fact Sheet

 

The Labour Standards Code provides rules about employment rights, e.g., rules about vacation pay, holiday pay and minimum wage. It also includes rules that protect foreign workers. This fact sheet answers your questions about the rules that protect foreign workers. Please refer frequently to this fact sheet for current updates.  For more information on any part of the Labour Standards Code, please contact our office.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

 

 

Who is covered under the foreign worker rules of the Labour Standards Code?

The foreign worker provisions apply to foreign workers who are defined under the Labour Standards Code as “individuals who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents within the meaning of the federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA)” and who are recruited to become employed in Nova Scotia. If you have any questions about who is covered by the foreign worker rules, please contact Labour Standards.

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Are foreign workers covered by the other parts of the Labour Standards Code?

Yes.  The Labour Standards Code generally applies to most employees in Nova Scotia, including foreign workers. 

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Can an employer or a recruiter charge workers, including foreign workers, a fee for recruitment?

No.  It is against the law to directly or indirectly charge a fee to or collect a fee from a person for assistance in finding the person work.  This provision applies to all workers in Nova Scotia including foreign workers.

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Can an employer deduct recruitment costs from a foreign worker’s pay?

No.  It is against the law for an employer to recover, directly or indirectly, any costs of recruitment from an employee’s pay.  This provision applies to all employees in Nova Scotia including foreign workers.

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What kinds of deductions can an employer make to a foreign worker’s pay?

In most circumstances, employers must deduct CPP, EI and income tax from a foreign worker’s pay.  There are strict rules about what other deductions an employer can make from pay.  Please see the fact sheet Deductions from Pay for information about which deductions are lawful and which deductions are unlawful.  For specific information on CPP, EI and income tax deductions, contact Canada Revenue Agency.

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Can an employer reduce a foreign worker’s pay or hours?

Generally, no.  However, there are very limited circumstances where a change in pay or benefits can be made. Please refer to clause 2 (11A) of the General Labour Standards Code Regulations or contact Labour Standards.

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Can a foreign worker agree to accept a reduction to his/her pay and benefits of employment?

No.  A foreign worker cannot agree to a reduction in his/her wages, benefits or other terms or conditions of employment unless the reduction is permitted by Labour Standards legislation.  Any agreement to an unlawful reduction is considered void.

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Can an employer end a foreign worker’s employment?

An employer can end the employment of an employee, including a foreign worker, by following the provisions of the Labour Standards Code for terminating an employee’s employment.  If an employer needs to end the employment of a foreign worker, the employer should contact Labour Standards to discuss what steps should be taken to inform and support the worker. Also, the employer must notify Service Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada of the end of the employment. Please see the fact sheet When the Employer Ends the Employment for more details on ending employment.

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Can an employer have a foreign worker deported?

No.  An employer does not have the authority to deport a foreign worker from Canada.  If you have any questions about deportation, please contact Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

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Can an employer take and keep a foreign worker’s possessions, e.g., passport?

No.  An employer cannot take or keep any property of a foreign worker, including his/her passport and work permit.  Employers should be aware that taking and keeping a foreign worker’s travel documents could raise concerns regarding human trafficking and result in RCMP involvement in the situation.  For more information on human trafficking please visit the RCMP website.

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Can a recruiter take and keep a foreign worker’s possessions, e.g., passport?

No.  A recruiter cannot take or keep any property of a foreign worker, including his/her passport and work permit.  Recruiters should be aware that taking and keeping a foreign worker’s travel documents could raise concerns regarding human trafficking and result in RCMP involvement in the situation.  For more information on human trafficking please visit the RCMP website.

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What if I suspect or know of human trafficking activity?

According to the RCMP's website, human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation or harbouring of persons for the purpose of exploitation (typically in the sex industry or for forced labour). Human trafficking is a serious crime.  There are protections under Canadian Law.  You can find information on human trafficking by contacting the RCMP or by visiting the RCMP website.  If you suspect human trafficking activity is occurring, contact your local police at 911 or contact the Crime Stoppers Program at 1-800-222-8477.

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Are there any rules to make sure recruiters are allowed to recruit foreign workers in Nova Scotia?

Recruiters of foreign workers need a recruiter licence from Labour Standards to help foreign workers find a job in Nova Scotia and to help employers in Nova Scotia find foreign workers, unless the recruiter falls within one of the exceptions listed in the next question.  A list of all licensed recruiters for Nova Scotia is posted on our website.

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Are there any exemptions to the requirement to have a recruiter licence to engage in foreign worker recruitment activities?

Yes.  The following people do not have to hold a recruiter licence:  1)  a person who is engaged in recruiting a foreign worker for employment with that person, 2) a staff member of an employer who is engaged in foreign worker recruitment for that employer, 2)  a person who, without receiving a fee directly or indirectly, assists a foreign worker who is a relative to find employment, and 4)  a department or agency of the government or a municipality.

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Where can I find information on all parts of the Labour Standards Code?

Please visit our website where you will find up-to-date information on Labour Standards in Nova Scotia, including:  changes to the Code, FAQs and the Guide to the Labour Standards Code.  You can also contact our office.

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What is the process for filing a Labour Standards complaint?

If you think the rules are not being followed, contact us.  Our officers will give you information that can help you decide whether or not to file a complaint and how to file

If you want to make a complaint but you don’t want to give us your name, talk to us about it. You may be able to file an anonymous or confidential complaint.  We can explain what we can and cannot do without your name.  Some complaints cannot be pursued on a confidential basis.

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What if I have questions about employment matters like Employment Insurance, Record of Employment, work permits and workplace safety?

Please visit our foreign worker related sites page for contact information for other departments and agencies.

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Are there any community organizations with programs to help foreign workers while they are living in Nova Scotia?

Yes.  Both ISANS (Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia) and the YMCA provide support to temporary foreign workers through their Temporary Foreign Worker Support Program. ISANS provides support to temporary foreign workers in the Halifax area and YMCA provides support in Pictou and surrounding area.

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I have questions about the rules for hiring foreign workers in Canada.

The Federal Government is responsible for the program that allows foreign workers to be hired here in Canada.  Please contact Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada for information.

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For more information, contact Labour Standards

Phone: 902-424-4311; or toll free in Nova Scotia 1-888-315-0110
Fax: 902-424-0648
E-mail:

labrstd@novascotia.ca (for general Labour Standards quesitons)
LSTFWP@novascotia.ca (for questions about LS rules for foreign workers)

Website: www.novascotia.ca/lae/employmentrights

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See also:

Foreign Workers - Employer Registration Fact Sheet
Foreign Workers - Recruiter Licence Fact Sheet

 

Go back to the main Foreign Worker page