Definitions

EMPLOYMENT & EMPLOYEE

Employment: A remunerated activity that entails obligations, responsibilities and requires specific professional qualifications and/or skills. Domestic workers offer their services in exchange for a salary. Therefore, hours of work that are not paid are illegal and do not satisfy the criteria for the definition of ’employment’.

Employee: According to labor laws, an employee is a person who works for an employer and who is entitled to a wage. Therefore, hours of work (over time or not) that are not paid are illegal and do not satisfy the criteria for the definition of ’employment’.

BREAK & LEAVES

Break: A break is a short period during the work day where the employee can withdraw from work. After a work period of five consecutive hours, the employee is entitled to a break period of 30 minutes (without pay). This period must be paid if the employee is not authorized to leave his work.

For example, if Sarah is working from 12 am to 8 pm, she will be allowed a 30-minute break because she has worked five consecutive hours. Therefore, at 5 pm she can take 30 minutes rest.

Rest Period: Every week, an employee is entitled to interrupt his professional activities for a total of 32 consecutive hours.  

For example, if Sarah completed her work week between Monday and Friday, she will have the right to take all her Saturday (24h) and up to 8 am Sunday morning (+8h) to rest, which will complete a total of 32 hours of rest.

Sick Leave:  Sick leave is a period that the employee can be absent from work because of illness or accident. The absence is without pay and the employee is only entitled to sick leave after they have accumulated 3 months of uninterrupted service.

Annual Leave/Vacation: Annual leave is the time that an employee is entitled to be away from their employment each year. After working 12 consecutive months for the same employer, the employer is entitled to two weeks annual leave. The employee still receives their pay during this time.

For example, if Sarah has worked for 12 months with her employer in 2015 (January to December), she will get paid vacations in 2016 (between January and December).

REGULAR WORK WEEK (IN QUEBEC)

The regular work week of a domestic worker is 40 hours. If the employee works beyond this period, he or she must be paid accordingly.

Hours that are worked in excess of the regular work week must be paid at the rate for overtime (1.5 times the normal average rate).

For example, if the normal hourly rate is $10/hour and Sarah has worked a total of 50 hours this week, the 10 additional hours must also be paid at $15/hour.

40 x $ 10/hour = $ 400

+ 10 x $ 15/hour = $ 150

= A total of 550$ before taxes for this week

ABUSE

Abuse is behavior or treatment that infringes a person’s human rights. The conduct must exceed the standard set by human rights, if it does not, it cannot be described as abuse. Sometimes, a violation of an employment standard will constitute abuse because the standard is directly related to a human right (such as the right to security of person and the right to a workplace free of psychological harassment).

  • Abuse can occur when a person takes advantage of the trust or confidence of another person.
    • For example, an employee who does not properly calculate his hours because he trusts his employer to do so, but the latter decreases the hours each week in order to reduce the amount of salary.
  • Abuse can happen when a person oversteps his or her rights, which can be either the employee or employer
    • For example, an employer who forces an employee to work seven days straight when they employee is entitled to a rest period of 32 consecutive hours per week.
  • Finally, there can be the abuse of a situation. This is when someone takes advantage of the vulnerable position of another person.
    • For example, an employee who has completed 23 months of work and only has one month of work to complete before they can apply for permanent residency and the employer uses the threat of dismissal to force the employee to do derogatory tasks.

PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT

Psychological harassment: Demeaning conduct that may be manifested by repeated behavior, verbal comments, actions, or gestures that are hostile and/or unwanted, which undermines the dignity, psychological or physical integrity of the person and that results in a harmful work environment.

For example, one may isolate, discredit, cast aside, humiliate, force him or her to perform demeaning tasks, falsely allege professional misconduct, degrade the person in front of others, mock his or her beliefs and tastes, etc.

Sexual harassment:  Words, gestures, behaviors and/or physical contact of a sexual nature towards another person and is usually repeated, and unwanted by the other person, man or woman. Sexual harassment greatly impacts the victim, who will suffer and sustain negatives effects in his or her work environment (either direct consequences such as dismissal and disciplinary action, or indirect consequences such as a poisoned work environment).

For example, it may be unwanted physical contact such as touching, pinching; unwanted solicitation of sexual favors; inappropriate sexual comments, remarks about the victim’s body or her looks; derogatory jokes regarding the sexual identity and/or sexual orientation of the victim; leering, especially directed at the genitals of the victim; whistles, catcalls etc.


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