More than 40,000 foreigners immigrate to Quebec each year, and the majority of them come to work in the province. This article will tell you about finding a job in Quebec and about the provincial labour standards.
Quebec job market and labour standards are part of the Canadian ones. However, certain characteristics set this province apart. You have more chances to find a job in Quebec if you speak French and have professional contacts in the province. And unlike the rest of Canada, employment contracts are not very widespread in Quebec.
Employment Requirements in Quebec
Many occupations in the province are regulated and require having a license or certificate of qualification. Most employers in Quebec also have certain requirements for language proficiency and education.
Regulated Occupations and Trades
Some occupations and trades in Quebec are regulated and require various conditions to be met in order to practise those occupations and trades (e. g. obtaining a licence to practise or a certificate of qualification). If this is your case, you must contact a professional order or regulatory body for more information. For instance, engineering and nursing occupations are governed by professional orders. Crane operators, electricians, and gas workers are regulated by other regulatory bodies. The lists of regulated occupations and trades can be found on the Quebec.ca website. Also, you need to check whether there is a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between Quebec and your country.
It is usually required to have proficiency in oral and written French in order to work in Quebec. In some regions of the province, for example, in the Montreal region, it is often required to have a knowledge of English or to be bilingual. Being proficient in a language other than French and English is a valuable asset, but it is rarely required by Quebec employers.
High school education (11 years) is the minimum education required for most jobs In Quebec. This corresponds to a provincial high school diploma (diplôme d’études secondaires, DES). If you have a post-secondary diploma, certificate or degree obtained abroad, the employer may require to obtain a comparative evaluation for studies (Évaluation comparative des études effectuées hors du Québec, ECEEHQ) issued by the Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion of Quebec (Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Diversité et de l’Inclusion, MIDI).
To work in Quebec, you will need the following documents:
- CV presenting your skills and accomplishments. It should provide a summary of your job history but should not exceed two pages. The description of employment should start by the most recent job
- Proof of employment and work experience, letters of recommendation from previous employers
- Education credentials (diplomas, course transcripts, certificates of continuing education or training internships, a description of the courses you have completed)
- Permits to practice your profession or trade and certificates of qualification from previous employers
- ECEEHQ, if needed
Quebec Labour Standards
The Quebec Act Respecting Labour Standards contains provisions concerning employment contract, wages, work schedule, overtime, and more.
Newly hired employees may be offered a trial period of a few weeks to several months. An employment contract is not obligatory in Quebec.
Employees have the right to a temporary suspension of the contract (layoff) for no more than 6 months. Otherwise, they receive a notice of termination of employment. In case of a permanent layoff, employees receive all of the amounts due (wages, overtime, vacation indemnity, etc.). The notice period for termination and dismissal varies depending on position and work experience.
The minimum hourly wage in Quebec is C$12.50. The rate for employees receiving tips is C$10.05.
An employer must give a new employee their first payment within one month. After that, the payment must be given at regular intervals that may not exceed 16 days or one month in the case of senior management personnel or contract employees. If a payday falls on a statutory holiday, the employee must be paid on a working day preceding the holiday.
If an employee gets a car or accommodation from his employer, this must not reduce his wage below the minimum rate. Special clothing and equipment needed to do a job must also be provided free of charge to employees paid at the minimum wage.
The length of the work week in Quebec is normally 40 hours but can vary from 39 to 60 hours depending on the industry:
- Employees of the clothing industry: 39 hours
- Watchmen who guard property on behalf of firm providing surveillance services: 44 hours
- Workers in a forestry operation or a sawmill: 47 hours
- Employees who work in a remote area or on the James Bay territory: 55 hours
- Watchmen who do not work for a firm providing surveillance services: 60 hours
Employees must receive overtime pay for hours worked over their maximum hours at a rate of 50% of their regular hourly rate. At the employee’s request, the employer may replace the payment of overtime with a leave of an equivalent duration increased by 50%.
After 5 consecutive hours of work, the employee is entitled to a 30-minute unpaid break to have a meal. He must be paid for this period if he is unable to leave his workplace. An employer is under no obligation to offer coffee breaks. However, if they are granted, they must be included in the work hours and be paid.
Each week, an employee is entitled to at least 32 consecutive hours of rest.
Unlike Canada on the federal level, there is no Boxing Day among public paid holidays in Quebec, and Good Friday is at the employer’s choice. Quebec employees are entitled to the following statutory holidays:
- January 1 (New Year’s Day)
- Good Friday or Easter Monday (at the employer’s choice)
- The Monday preceding May 25th (National Patriots’ Day)
- June 24 (National Holiday)
- July 1 or July 2, if this date falls on a Sunday (Moving Day)
- The 1st Monday in September (Labour Day)
- The 2nd Monday in October (Thanksgiving)
- December 25 (Christmas Day)
An employee in Quebec is entitled to a vacation after working 12 consecutive months for the same employer during the reference year (usually from May 1 to April 30).
The indemnity and length of the vacation may vary depending on the length of work experience during the reference year:
- If the employee worked for the same employer for less than 1 year, the employee is entitled to 1 day per full month of work but no more than 2 weeks of vacation and to the indemnity of 4%
- If the employee worked for the same employer for 1–2 years, the employee is entitled to 2 weeks of vacation and to the indemnity of 4%
- If the employee worked for the same employer for 3 weeks, the employee is entitled to 3 weeks of vacation and to the indemnity of 6%
For employees in the clothing industry, vacations are longer and indemnity bigger.
Maternity and Parental Leaves
Pregnant employees in Quebec are entitled to an unpaid maternity leave of a maximum 18 continuous weeks.
Each parent of a newborn or a newly adopted child is entitled to an unpaid parental leave of up to 52 weeks. The parental leave may be added to the maternity leave.
How to Start Working in Quebec
Among the most important industries in Quebec are aerospace, food processing, information and communication technologies, life sciences, microelectronics, mining, multimedia, and transportation. Most jobs in Quebec are offered in the service sector. There are fewer job vacancies in the manufacturing sector, but the working conditions may be attractive there. As to the cities, Montreal and Quebec City have the most significant number of job openings in the province.
Finding a job in Quebec is not easy. Only 20% of job vacancies in the province are published on the Internet or in newspapers. The remaining 80% go through word-of-mouth, employer’s contacts and partners or direct solicitations from companies. It is called “networking” and it is still the best way to get a job in Quebec.
Quebec offers various services helping international workers. There are about 150 Local Employment Centres (LECs) where you can search for job vacancies, use computers and printers, get help with your CV, attend group information sessions and workshops or be referred to job search agencies.
Having a job offer or work experience may help you get permanent residence in Quebec through one of the immigration programs for workers: