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Strata Law

Surrey Library - Guildford
15105 105 Ave
Surrey, BC V3R 7G8
January 29, 2019

Strata Law

Surrey Library - Semiahmoo
1815 152 St
Surrey, BC V4A 9Y9
January 24, 2019

Wills and Estates

Surrey Library - Newton
13795 70 Ave
Surrey, BC V3W 0E1
January 23, 2019

Employment Law

Surrey Library - City Centre
10350 University Dr
Surrey, BC V3T 4B8
January 23, 2019

Wills and Estates

Surrey Library - Ocean Park
12854 17th Ave
Surrey, BC V4A 1T5
January 21, 2019

Consumer and Debt Law

Relaunched in 2018 as a Clicklaw Wikibook, this problem-solving manual is for advocates and other legal professionals helping clients with consumer or debt problems.Read more

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Earning the Minimum Wage

Top 10 things to know about the minimim wage for workers in BC.

“Last summer I started my first job as a dishwasher. My starting wage was eight dollars an hour. I thought that seemed pretty low, but it was my first job so I didn’t question it. Then I discovered it was below minimum wage. I gathered my courage and raised the issue with my boss. He agreed to bump my wage to the legal minimum.”

– Fred, Langley

Minimum wage is the lowest wage an employer can pay a worker. Here are 10 key things to know about the minimum wage in British Columbia.

1. The minimum wage applies to most (but not all) workers

A BC law requires employers to pay workers at least a minimum wage. This law applies to most workers in the province. But some workers are not covered by it. For example, babysitters aren't covered. Nor are people working in certain government incentive programs while receiving government benefits. Workers in industries regulated by the federal government (such as banks or airlines) are covered by federal laws, not by the provincial law. 

For a full list of workers not covered by the BC minimum-wage law, see the provincial government's page, Do Employment Standards Apply to You?

Even if you sign a contract for wages lower than the minimum wage, you are still owed at least the minimum wage. You cannot contract yourself out of what is given to you under the main law protecting workers in BC. However, if your contract promises you more than the minimum wage, you should receive that higher wage.  

2. The general minimum wage applies to most workers

Most workers that are covered by the BC minimum-wage law are entitled to the general minimum wage. As of June 1, 2018, the general minimum wage is $12.65 per hour.

Special minimum wage rates apply for some jobs:

  • liquor servers
  • live-in camp leaders
  • live-in home support workers
  • resident caretakers
  • farm workers who pick crops by hand

These are explained below.

3. Liquor servers have a different minimum wage (for now)

A liquor server is a worker:

  • whose primary duties are serving food or drinks, and
  • who, as a regular part of their job, serves liquor directly to customers or guests in premises with a liquor licence.

Hosts, bussers, dishwashers, cooks and other kitchen workers whose primary duties don’t involve serving liquor are paid the general minimum wage. If one of these workers is occasionally required to serve liquor, the general rate still applies to them. 

As of June 1, 2018, the minimum wage for liquor servers is $11.40 per hour.

The different minimum wage for liquor servers is being phased out. As of June 1, 2021, the general minimum wage will apply to liquor servers. 

Even if you’re a server at a restaurant with a liquor licence, you may not be a liquor server under the law. For example, if you serve food and drink but not liquor, the liquor server minimum wage does not apply. The provincial government's factsheet on the liquor server minimum wage may help clarify things. 

4. Minimum wages for certain live-in workers are based on a daily rate

Minimum wages for live-in camp leaders and live-in home support workers are based on a daily rate.

A live-in camp leader is someone who:

  • works for a charity at a summer or seasonal camp for people under age 19,
  • provides instruction and counselling to campers, and
  • provides those services on a 24 hour per day live-in basis without being charged for room and board.

As of June 1, 2018, the minimum wage for live-in camp leaders is $101.24 for each day or part day worked.   

A live-in home support worker is someone who:

  • works for an employer providing government-funded home support services for a sick or disabled person, and
  • provides those services on a 24 hour per day live-in basis without being charged for room and board.

As of September 17, 2017, the minimum wage for live-in home support workers is $113.50 for each day or part day worked.  

5. A resident caretaker's minimum wage depends on the size of the apartment

A resident caretaker is someone who:

  • lives in an apartment building that has more than eight residential suites, and
  • is employed as a caretaker, custodian, janitor or manager of that building.

There may be more than one resident caretaker in a building. The minimum wage for resident caretakers is a monthly wage based on the number of suites in the building. Where they work less than a full month, their wages are prorated (that is, adjusted based on the number of days worked).

As of June 1, 2018, the minimum wage for a resident caretaker is:

  • For an apartment with nine to 60 suites: $759.32 per month plus $30.43 for each suite.
  • For an apartment with more than 60 suites: $2,586.40 per month.

6. Farm workers who pick crops by hand must be paid a minimum piece rate

The law in BC includes a detailed description of who is considered a farm worker. Farm workers who pick crops by hand may be paid by piece rate — that is, by the amount picked. 

As of September 15, 2017, the minimum piece rates are:

Crop

Minimum Piece Rate

Apples

$18.89 per bin (0.767m3)

Apricots

$21.73 per half bin (0.388m3)

Beans

$0.571 per kg

Blueberries

$0.966 per kg

Brussel sprouts

$0.397 per kg

Cherries

$0.547 per kg

Grapes

$20.07 per half bin (0.388m3)

Mushrooms

$0.573 per kg

Peaches

$20.07 per half bin (0.357m3)

Pears

$21.27 per bin (0.767m3)

Peas

$0.712 per kg

Prune plums

$21.27 per half bin (0.388m3)

Raspberries

$0.871 per kg

Strawberries

$0.838 per kg

Daffodils* 

$0.152 per bunch (10 stems)

* The rate for daffodils does not include vacation pay

7. Tips don’t count towards your wages

Tips (sometimes called "gratuities") are paid by customers in appreciation for a service. Under BC law, tips don’t count as wages. Your regular wage — before tips — must be at least the minimum wage.

For example, say you earn $3 per hour in tips. Your employer can’t pay you only $10 an hour on the rationale that your total earnings ($10 in wages plus $3 in tips) exceed the minimum wage. What you earn in tips is your money. It can’t figure into your employer’s calculation of your wage.

Your employer can require you to pool your tips and to share them with workers whose work doesn’t generally get recognized with tips — for example, dishwashers. Your employer doesn’t get a cut of the tips, unless they’re doing the same work as the workers earning tips. 

Your employer can’t use your tips to cover business costs. For example, they can’t use your tips to offset losses from customers who dine-and-dash. If they do, you’re entitled to that money back. See if your employer hasn’t paid you

8. If you are paid on commission, minimum wage still applies

If you are paid on commission, and your earnings fall below the minimum wage for the number of hours you work, your employer must pay you the difference between your commission earned and the minimum wage. This is the case whether you are paid 100% on commission or part commission and part hourly wages.

Also, your employer cannot use your earnings from a subsequent pay period where you earn more than the minimum wage to top up your earnings in a pay period where you earn less than minimum wage.  

9. Trainees are entitled to the minimum wage

The law in BC that protects workers applies to someone who is being trained by an employer for the employer’s business. This means the rules around minimum wage apply to trainees

However, if you want extra training for something your current job doesn’t require, your employer needn’t cover it. For example, suppose you want to do training that might set you up for a promotion but won’t be useful in your current job. That’s commendable. But it’s on you. 

Generally, interns must be paid the minimum wage. However, there are certain exceptions where an internship may be unpaid. See our guidance on doing an internship.

10. Minimum wages will increase through 2021

Under BC law, minimum wages will increase through 2021. The general minimum wage will be set at:

  • June 1, 2019 – $13.85 per hour
  • June 1, 2020 – $14.60 per hour
  • June 1, 2021 – $15.20 per hour

Minimum wages will also increase for most of the jobs with different minimum rates. For example, the minimum wage for liquor servers and resident caretakers will go up each year through 2021. For details, see the provincial government's minumum wage factsheet.

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