Workplace Laws


The law sets rights and responsibilities for employees and employers. Different laws apply to different situations.

Labour Standards 

Act respecting labour standards 

This law sets the minimum working standards for employees that employers must follow. Here are some things covered by this law: 

  • public holidays and vacation time 
  • minimum wage 
  • length of the regular work week 
  • termination of employment and layoffs 
  • psychological harassment 
  • work performed by children 

An employer can offer better working conditions but can never offer less.  

The Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail or CNESST (labour standards, pay equity and workplace health and safety board) is responsible for applying the Act respecting labour standards, among other things. It also handles complaints from employees covered by this law.  

The Act respecting labour standards doesn’t cover all employees in Quebec. Some employees are covered by the Canada Labour Code

Canada Labour Code 

This law sets the minimum working conditions for employees working for federal institutions, such as these:  

  • federal government 
  • banks 
  • radio and television networks  
  • interprovincial transportation companies  
  • port authorities 
  • telecommunication companies  

The Labour Program handles complaints from employees covered by the Canada Labour Code

Quebec’s Labour Code    

Quebec’s Labour Code is a provincial law that lets employees join unions and sets the rules for labour relations between employers and unions in Quebec. Don’t confuse this law with the Canada Labour Code.  

Collective agreements set the working conditions for unionized employees in Quebec who don’t work for federal institutions. The working conditions must meet or exceed the minimum working conditions set out in the Act respecting labour standards.  

The Canada Labour Code sets the minimum working conditions for unionized employees working for federal institutions. It also has the rules for labour relations between unions and employers in federal institutions.    

Workplace Health and Safety 

Act respecting occupational health and safety  

Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases  

The purpose of the first law is to prevent workplace accidents and illness. Employers must remove the sources of danger to the health, safety and well-being of employees.  

The second law provides compensation for employees who suffer workplace injuries or illness and ensures their right to return to work.  

The CNESST ensures these laws are respected and handles complaints of employees covered by these laws.   

Pay Equity 

Pay Equity Act 

Pay equity means equal pay for equivalent work even if the jobs are different. For example, work traditionally done by women can have the same value as work done traditionally done by men even though the work is different. Under this law, employers who have 10 or more employees must ensure pay equity in the workplace. 

The CNESST also ensures employers respect this law. 

Other Laws  

Civil Code of Québec 

This law has the rules for employment contracts, non-competition agreements and employees’ duty of loyalty towards their employers. This law also says employers must not discriminate when applying the equal pay for equivalent work laws. 

Quebec’s Charter of human rights and freedoms  

This law sets out practices that are not allowed, such as refusing to hire people because of the colour of their skin, sexual orientation, ethnic origin or disability.  

Act respecting the protection of personal information in the private sector  

This law covers privacy in the workplace, for example, the kind of personal information employers can gather on their employees and how they can gather and use this information. 

To learn more about workplace rights, responsibilities and remedies, see the Work section of our website.