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For Caregivers: Know Your Rights When Coming to BC

Jurisdiction: 
This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
Reviewed: 
July 2020
Time to read: 
4 minutes

If you’re coming to work in British Columbia as a live-in caregiver, knowing your legal rights will help make your experience successful. To help you prepare, here are answers to eight commonly asked questions.

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If you’re coming to work in British Columbia as a live-in caregiver, knowing your legal rights will help make your experience successful. To help you prepare, here are answers to eight commonly asked questions.

Can I be charged a fee to get a job?

Under the law in BC, no one can charge a fee to help you find a job. This includes employment agencies and immigration consultants. 

And no one can charge for pointing you to employers who are hiring.

What kind of working conditions can I expect?

As a live-in caregiver, you have legal rights to fair working conditions and fair treatment under BC’s main employment law. This law sets minimum standards for things like minimum wage, overtime pay, hours of work, and statutory holidays.

For example, as a live-in caregiver, you’re entitled to earn at least the general minimum wage in BC. You could be entitled to more, depending on what your contract says. If you work more hours than you and your employer agreed to up front, you must be paid for these extra hours. You’re entitled to time off. Our guidance for caregivers who have a problem at work explains several of these rights and what you can do if your employer violates your rights.

What kind of living arrangements can I expect?

If you’ll be living with your employer, they must guarantee that the accommodation meets acceptable standards. You’re entitled to your own private accommodation. For example, a room with a lock on the door. And no one should enter your room without your permission.

Do I need an employment contract?

Under the law in BC, live-in caregivers must have a written employment contract. This is an agreement between you and your employer. It sets out the terms of your work (for example, your duties and work hours).

Read your contract carefully before signing it. Consider seeking help from an employment agency or settlement service to be sure you understand the terms.

The employer must give you a reasonable amount of time to review and consider the employment contract before you sign. If you’re pressured into signing before you feel comfortable doing so, the contract might be unenforceable.

Do I need a work permit?

If you are a foreign national (that is, not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident) and you want to work in Canada as a caregiver, you must first get approval for a work permit. You can apply for a work permit through one of the following programs:

To qualify for either of these programs, you must be able to establish that:

  • you can communicate in at least one of Canada’s official languages (English and French),
  • you have an education that is equivalent to one year of Canadian post-secondary education, and
  • you have a job offer from a Canadian employer who has offered you full-time employment to provide in-home care for a child, a person with special needs or a senior.

How can I avoid problems in applying for a work permit?

It’s important not to misrepresent anything on your immigration paperwork. Under Canadian law, misrepresentation is defined broadly. It includes doing any of the following when applying to immigrate to Canada or communicating with Canadian immigration officials:

  • making false statements
  • lying
  • submitting false information or altered documents
  • withholding important information, including previous employment history

It doesn’t matter if you didn’t intend to deceive anyone. If you misrepresent something even by mistake, the government can still allege misrepresentation. If you’re found guilty, you could be denied entry into Canada and barred from even making an application to enter Canada for five years.

I’ve been warned about “labour trafficking.” What does that mean?

Labour trafficking is a type of human trafficking. Human trafficking is recruiting, transporting, or harbouring people to exploit them. Under the law in Canada, human trafficking is illegal.

Labour trafficking happens when workers are made to work by deception, fraud, or abuse of power. Signs of labour trafficking include workers who:

  • are underpaid or not paid at all
  • have wages deducted for no good reason
  • are forced to work overtime, too many days, or without breaks
  • are living in poor conditions with little or no privacy
  • are abused emotionally or psychologically
  • are prevented from holding onto their own passport

If someone is the victim of labour trafficking, there are organizations that can help.

Are there places where I can get help before I go?

Before you leave your home country, search for organizations providing pre-arrival services in your area. These services can help you prepare for life and work in Canada. They may be delivered in-person or online.  

The federal government has partnered with organizations to offer pre-arrival services in locations around the world. Check out the federal government’s website to explore your options. (Note these services are for permanent residence applicants only.)

For more information to help you prepare, see our guidance on preparing to work in BC.

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Trevor Thomas
Ascent Employment Law