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Everyday Legal Problems

Consumer and Debt Law

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Earning the Minimum Wage

Each province sets its own minimum wage that employers must pay their employees. Here are seven important points about the minimum wage 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

Each province sets its own minimum wage that employers must pay their employees. Here are seven important points about the minimum wage in BC.

The main legislation in BC that protects workers may not apply to you

Some types of workers aren’t covered by the main legislation protecting workers in BC. The legislation doesn’t apply to people who are:

  • in licensed professions, such as doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers and realtors
  • in industries regulated by the federal government (for example, banks and airlines)
  • in certain government incentive programs while receiving income assistance, disability benefits or Employment Insurance
  • secondary-school students working at their school or in work-study programs
  • primary- or secondary-school students working 15 hours or less a week as newspaper carriers
  • babysitters

There is a general minimum wage in BC

Most employees in the province are entitled to the general minimum wage, as per the law in BC. The general minimum wage, set by the government, rises occasionally as political and economic factors change.

As of June 1, 2018, the general minimum wage in BC is $12.65 per hour. There are three planned increases to the minimum wage to June 1, 2021. 

Some workers aren’t covered by the provincial minimum-wage law. For example, employees in federally-regulated industries, such as banking, are exempt. See this page published by the government to determine if this law applies to you. 

The minimum wage is different for some jobs

Under the law in BC, the minimum wage is different for some jobs. 

Minimum wage for liquor servers

A liquor server is an employee:

  • whose primary duties are serving of food or drink, or both, and
  • who, as a regular part of their job, serves liquor directly to customers, guests, members, or patrons in a premises that has been issued a liquor license.

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 employees 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. There are three planned increases to this wage to June 1, 2021. 

Even if you’re a server at a restaurant with a liquor license, you may not be a liquor server at law. This factsheet may help clarify things. 

Minimum wage for live-in camp leaders

A live-in camp leader is someone who:

  • is employed by a charity at a summer or seasonal camp for people under 19 years old,
  • 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. There are three planned increases to this wage to June 1, 2021. 

Minimum wage for live-in home support workers

A live-in home support worker is someone who:

  • is employed by an agency, business, or other employer providing, through a government-funded program, home support services for anyone with an acute or chronic illness or disability not requiring admission to a hospital, 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. There are no planned increases to this wage.

Minimum wage for resident caretakers

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 as follows:

  • 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.

There are three planned increases to this wage to June 1, 2021.

There are minimum rates for farm workers who harvest crops

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 as follows:

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 bin (0.388m3)

Raspberries

$0.871 per kg

Strawberries

$0.838 per kg

Daffodils 

$0.152 per bunch (10 stems) not including vacation pay

Tips don’t count towards your wages

Tips (sometimes called “gratuities”)  are paid by customers in appreciation for a service. Under the law in BC, 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 because the $13 total exceeds minimum wage. (See the section above). 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 employees who work in positions that don’t generally receive tips — for example, dishwashers. Your employer doesn’t get a cut, unless they’re doing the same work as the employees earning tips. 

Your employer can’t use your tips to cover business costs. For example, they can’t use them 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

If you are paid on commission

If you are paid on commission (whether you are 100% commission or are part commission and part hourly wages), but those commission earnings don't total the minimum wage for the number of hours worked, then your employer must pay you the difference between your commission earned and the minimum wage.

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.  

Even trainees are entitled to the minimum wage

Under the law in BC, an employee includes 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.

Wills and Estates

Port Moody Library
100 Newport Dr.
Port Moody, BC V3H 5C3
November 27, 2018

Probating A Will

Port Moody Library
100 Newport Dr.
Port Moody, BC V3H 5C3
November 20, 2018

Wills and Estates

Burnaby Public Library - Tommy Douglas Branch
7311 Kingsway
Burnaby, BC V5E 1G8
November 8, 2018

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