When you accept a job, you enter into an agreement with your employer. He or she agrees to pay you a salary and other benefits in return for your work. In BC, there is a law to protect you and your basic rights as a worker. It is called the Employment Standards Act. This law protects most workers. For more information, see the Guide to the Employment Standards Act.
Most people are hired without a written contract. But an employer may require you to sign a contract. A contract might include things like:
There are many reasons why an employer may want you to sign a contract:
Read the contract carefully. When you sign an employment contract, make sure you agree with everything in it. Once you sign it, you might not be able to make changes unless your employer agrees.
An employer might want you to decide quickly. But you might want to ask for more time before signing the contract. It might take some time to understand what the contract says. You might need to get legal help. Keep a copy for yourself in case you have a dispute with your employer in the future.
If an employer wants you to sign a contract and you refuse, you might not get the job. A contract could offer terms that are better than minimum employment standards. For example, an employer could offer you more than the minimum paid vacation days.
A contract could help prevent disputes between you and your employer about the terms of your job. But a contract might not cover everything and it might have terms that are not legal. So the contract might not apply, even if you agreed to the things in the contract and signed it.
There are some things that you can agree to only if they are in writing. For example, there are basic rules about overtime pay. In most jobs, you earn 1.5 times your hourly pay for each hour of overtime that you work. But if you agree in writing, you can be given paid time off work instead of overtime pay.
There are some rights that you keep, even if it the contract doesn’t say it or even if it says something different. For example, regardless of the terms in the contract, the following still apply:
And even if you sign something saying you're an "independent contractor", then you still might have rights under the Employment Standards Act.
Last reviewed: March 2016
IMPORTANT: This page provides legal information, not legal advice. If you need legal advice consult a lawyer.
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