The law obliges employers to pay for all work done by employees. Whether you are in training, working on commission, or working only a couple of hours at a time, you have the right to the minimum wage.
This article explains how employees are protected by the Labour Standards Act when it comes to the minimum wage and the ways salary must be paid.
What is the minimum wage?
There are different minimum wage rates. They are set by the government of Quebec.
$13.50 per hour
Employees who get tips
$10.80 per hour
In special cases, there are other rates set for some industries, for example, berry picking.
Are all employees entitled to the minimum wage?
No. Certain workers aren’t entitled to the minimum wage. Here are some examples:
- students working for a non-profit organization that has a social or community mission, like a summer camp
- interns or apprentices in professional training programs recognized by the law, like articling students in law or interns in accounting
- workers entirely paid on commission who work in a commercial activity off-site, and whose work hours are not controlled by the employer. For example, this would be the case for a telephone salesperson who calls from home and only receives commission on the sales she makes.
When and how must my employer pay me?
Your employer must give you your salary either
- in cash in a sealed envelope,
- by cheque that can be cashed within two working days or
- by bank transfer.
If it is paid in cash or by cheque, it can be sent by mail or hand-delivered to you at work on a work day or, if payday falls on a statutory holiday, it must be given to you on the work day before the holiday.
No matter how you are paid, your employer must also give you a detailed pay slip, indicating all deductions so that you can calculate your net pay.
How do I know if I am a tip employee?
You are a tip employee if your clients usually give you money on top of your regular salary and you work in one of these establishments:
- a hotel
- a restaurant
- a campground
- a bar
- a restaurant that does delivery (pizza delivery, for example)
You are not a tip employee if you work in a fast-food restaurant or a cafeteria where there is no table service. This is why your clients are not obliged to tip you.
I am a tip employee. How is my salary calculated?
If you are a tip employee, tips you earn belong entirely to you. Your employer must pay you the minimum wage regardless of the amount you earn in tips.
If you receive your tips directly, you have an obligation to declare them in writing to your employer every pay period. This way, your employer can make the necessary calculations for your vacation pay and statutory holiday pay. Don’t forget that you also will have to report all your income to Revenu Québec at the end of the year!
If your tips are received by your employer, he must give them to you. For example, some establishments automatically add a service charge to customers’ bills for tables with eight or 10 patrons. In these cases, you don’t have to declare the tips, but your employer must report them in Revenu Québec’s Employer’s Statement of Tips and Tippable Sales.
You can decide with other tip employees to pool your tips. You can even decide to share them with other workers in your workplace. But your employer cannot force you to share your tips with the other workers, or organize a voluntary tipping pool. A tip-sharing arrangement can be agreed on, but only if all workers freely agree to this.
I worked on a trial basis for five hours for a potential employer. Do I have to be paid for this?
Yes. The Act respecting labour standards states that employers must pay at least the minimum wage for any work. Therefore, the employer must pay you for work done on a trial basis.
My company’s policy is to pay employees only every month. Is this legal?
No. The Act respecting labour standards says that employees must be paid at regular periods not over 16 days.
There is an exception to this rule: if you have a management position, your employer can pay you once a month.
My employer asks me to travel a lot for my job. Do I have a right to be paid during this travel?
Yes. You are assumed to be working while you travel for work, and your employer has to pay you for this time.
Your employer also has to pay you when you are available for work at the workplace, waiting for an assignment.
I get paid a little more than the minimum wage. Do I have the right to a salary increase if the minimum wage goes up?
Your employer must at least pay you the minimum wage. The rest depends on your situation.
Here are three examples:
- You were hired to work at $12.75 an hour. At the time, the minimum wage was $12.50 an hour. If the minimum wage goes up $13.50 the following year, your employer must increase your salary to at least the minimum wage.
- You were hired to work at $14.50 an hour. At the time, the minimum wage was $12.50 an hour. If the minimum wage goes up to $13.50 the following year, your employer does not have to increase your salary since it is still above the minimum wage.
- You and your employer agreed together that your salary would be the minimum wage, plus $0.75. In this case, your employer must increase your salary each time the minimum wage increases. When he does this, it’s not because of what the law says, but because of what is in your contract.
Be careful! A salary is something that can be negotiated. Nothing stops you from telling your employer that because the minimum wage increased, it is only fair that your salary should go up a bit.