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In a Saskatchewan Workplace

Every occupation and employer has different workplace expectations. However, there are many things that are the same in most workplaces in Saskatchewan. Learn about workplace culture in Saskatchewan, what to expect on the job and what rights and responsibilities you have as an employee.

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1. Workplace Culture

All workplaces have rules, policies and common practices or "unwritten rules" that take time to learn. These rules may be different from employer to employer, but there are some that are common across employers.

Adapting to your workplace

Every new employee needs to adapt to a new work place. Written rules may be posted on a company website or in a policy manual, but the unwritten rules are often more difficult to learn.

You may need to ask questions; or look at how others behave in the workplace, how they relate to one another, and what they wear. Ask your supervisor or co-workers if you are not sure about the directions you are given or what behaviour your supervisor expects.

You may find that the workplace is informal and that all people are treated as equals. Other things you may note about workplaces in Saskatchewan include:

  • People usually refer to each other and to their supervisors by first name;
  • No special status is given to those of a certain class, age, or gender;
  • Men and women are equals. It is important to treat men and women with equal respect;
  • It is good manners to say "please" and "thank you", "excuse me" when you bump someone and "I'm sorry to interrupt" when you want the attention of someone speaking with another person or on the phone; and
  • Work and personal life are seen as separate. You are expected to treat work information as confidential. Employers also expect that the phone, internet and email aren't used for personal reasons and that you leave all work equipment at work.

Employer Expectations

Employers look for employees who have the skills to do the job and the ability to fit into the workplace. Your employer will expect you to:

  • Be on time;
  • Complete work assigned to you;
  • Be dependable and trustworthy;
  • Get along with others at work;
  • Be able to work in a team and alone, without close supervision; and
  • Interact with co-workers, such as socializing during coffee breaks.

Finding a Mentor

A mentor is someone who is willing to share their work experience and knowledge with you. They can help in explaining Canadian workplace practices. A mentor is also a way to gain information on pursuing a career in your occupation.

Talk to your co-workers or supervisor to see if you can find a mentor in your workplace. Professional associations may also be able to help you find a mentor.

You can visit CanadaInfoNet, an online forum where volunteer mentors are available to assist professionals, business people and trades people who are new to Canada, or are considering immigrating to Canada.

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2. On the Job

Your first few days will be filled with information, including your job duties, hours of work, who you will report to and how you will be paid. Ask questions if there is anything you do not understand. 

Job Descriptions 

A job description is a written list of what is expected of you on the job, who you will report to, the qualifications you need for the job and the salary range for the job. Job descriptions may include employee benefits, pensions and medical plans.

Hours of Work 

Hours of work are different depending on the job and the workplace.  There are full time and part-time jobs, day shift, evening and night shift work, and weekdays and weekend work.

You will be expected to arrive on time. Saskatchewan employers also expect you to telephone if you are going to be late or if you are sick and cannot come to work.  You will need to ask ahead of time for vacation, time off for religious or family reasons, etc. 

Overtime: Your employer may require you to work overtime. For information on overtime and overtime pay, visit Wages and Pay and Rights and Responsibilities: A Guide to Employment Standards in Saskatchewan.

Decision Making and Reporting 

Employees are expected to follow their supervisor’s directions and use the proper channels of authority when making decisions, seeking information or dealing with problems. Smaller workplaces may be less formal.

You may report to a male or female boss and your co-workers may be male and female, and from a variety of cultures. Everyone is seen as equally valuable.

Getting Paid 

Most employees are paid by cheque or direct deposit to their bank accounts. If you are paid by cheque, you will be able to cash your pay cheque at a bank or financial institution where you have an account. If you arrange for direct deposit, your pay will be deposited into your bank account directly. Usually, an employer will have one method of paying all employees, and you may not have other options.

Payroll Deductions

Under Saskatchewan law, the employer will make deductions from your pay cheque for the following:

  • Income tax payments
  • Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions
  • Employment Insurance (EI) contributions
  • Others: pension plan contributions, union dues, life insurance or private health insurance plans

Income Tax

According to the law, all Canadian residents who are old enough to work must file an income tax return each year.

Working for an Employer 

At the end of the year, you will complete an income tax return which will help you calculate the exact amount of tax you need to pay and compare it with the amount that you have already  paid.  If too much has been deducted, you will get a refund.  If you paid too little, you will have to pay more.  Visit the Canada Revenue Agency for more information on income tax.

If you work for yourself or are paid in cash for jobs, you need to keep track of the amounts you earn and report these on your income tax return for that year.  Depending on your total income, you may need to pay income tax on these amounts.

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) 

The CPP provides pensions and benefits when contributors retire, become disabled or die. A part of your pay cheque goes to your CPP payments and your employer also contributes to the plan.  When you retire, you will receive money each month (called a pension) from the federal government.  The amount is based on the number of years you worked in Canada and how much money you made.

These plans also include pensions for the spouses of deceased pensioners, disability pensions, and death benefits.  Visit Service Canada for more information on the Canada Pension Plan. 

Employment Insurance (EI)

A percentage of your pay cheque will be deducted each month to go into an Employment Insurance (EI) account. Your employer also contributes to the account. Employment Insurance provides money to eligible, unemployed Canadian residents for a short time while they look for a new job or take training to learn new skills. To qualify for EI, you must have paid into it and worked a required number of hours.  Visit Service Canada for more information on Employment Insurance.  

Taxable Benefits

An amount of money may be deducted from your pay for other benefits (for example, life insurance, medical or dental plans, or a private pension plan).  If these benefits are taxable, it means that you may have to pay income tax based on the dollar value of the benefits, and you will need to report the total amount of these benefits on your income tax form.  

Union Dues 

Some workers in Saskatchewan are members of a union. Unions allow groups of workers to negotiate wages and working conditions as a group. Depending on your workplace, you may be required to become a member of a union, and a fee will be deducted from your pay for the union dues. On your tax return, you will be able to use your union dues to reduce the total amount of your income tax.

Reading Your Pay Cheque

On your pay cheque, you will see your gross and your net pay. Your gross pay is the amount you have earned before deductions are made. The net pay is the amount remaining after deductions are made, and this is the amount of money you take home.

Example:

If your wage is $18 per hour, for a two-week period (working 40 hours per week) your gross income would be $1,440.  Your employer will deduct (at a minimum) income tax, CPP and EI from this cheque. The deductions for these three things will be approximately $312.  This means that your net income, or the money you receive on your pay cheque, will be approximately $1,128.  Depending on your place of work, you may have additional deductions for things like union dues, life insurance or private health insurance plans. Remember: If you have questions about your pay, you can ask your supervisor to explain what is shown on the pay cheque. You can also visit Wages and Pay to learn more. 

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3. Rights and Responsibilities

There are provincial laws that protect workers and employers in Saskatchewan. These laws set minimum wages, health and safety standards and hours of work. In addition, human rights laws protect employees from being treated unfairly because of their sex, age, race, religion or disability.

Employment Standards

Employment standards vary from province to province. In Saskatchewan, The Saskatchewan Employment Act sets the rules for fair treatment at work. Learn more about your rights and responsibilities in the workplace including information on wages, time away from work and more by visiting Employment Standards.

You can also visit Rights and Responsibilities: A Guide to Employment Standards in Saskatchewan. This guide provides detailed information on work schedules, overtime, public holidays, annual vacation, benefits for part-time employees, payroll administration, terminations, parental leave, time off for illness or injury, equal pay, permits, domestic and home workers and complaints and enforcement.

Minimum Wages

Saskatchewan has a minimum wage that employers are required to pay their workers.

Workplace Health and Safety

All Canadians have the right to work in a safe and healthy environment. This is an important part of the workplace in Saskatchewan.

There are laws in place to protect employees from dangerous working conditions. If you believe something at your workplace is dangerous for you or someone else, discuss the problem with your employer or supervisor.

For more information about your rights and responsibilities related to health and safety in the workplace, visit Safety in the Workplace.

Workers' Compensation

In cases of injury or death on the job, Worker's Compensation provides financial assistance, medical benefits and rehabilitation services to injured workers and their dependents.

For information on your rights and what to do if you are injured on the job, see the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board website.

Human Rights

Human rights are rights that belong to all human beings. They are principles or values of legislation, law and Canadian society that apply to all people equally. They include things like:

  • Everyone is equal in dignity and rights.
  • The law is the same for all people
  • No one should be treated unfairly based on qualities like gender or disability.
  • Everyone (18 years or older) can vote and associate with the political party they choose.
  • No one should be denied education because of the group they belong to.
  • No one should be denied housing based on nationality, religion, gender, or other prohibited ground.

Visit the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission for more information.

The Human Rights Law in Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code is the law used to promote and protect rights and equality in Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (SHRC) is a government agency that protects and promotes human rights in Saskatchewan.

Prohibited (Protected) Grounds

All employees have certain rights guaranteed by this code, and it is illegal to discriminate against a person based on certain characteristics called prohibited (protected) grounds. These include:

  • Religion
  • Creed
  • Marital status
  • Family status
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Colour
  • Ancestry
  • Nationality
  • Place of origin
  • Race or perceived race
  • Receipt of public assistance
  • Gender identity

For example, you can ask an employer for special considerations to deal with a disability, or to practice your religion. An employer is expected to meet such requests as best as they can. As well, an employer must hire employees based on their qualifications. Employers cannot refuse to hire someone because of their skin colour or religion.

Public Areas of Life

The Code also protects you from public areas of life, such as employment and occupations, education, housing, public services, legal contracts or purchase of property and more.

The following actions are not discrimination under the Code:

  • Discipline for not doing your work properly when you know how it should be done, or for doing something illegal at work.
  • Work assignments, reviews, coaching, evaluation or discipline done by a Manager or a Supervisor for valid reasons.

Appropriate discipline in the workplace might involve a verbal or written warning or a suspension from work with no pay for 1 to 3 days, unless it is a more serious issue.

Harassment

Harassment is discrimination under the Code when it involves the protected grounds such as race, religion or sex, and is done in a public area of life such as the workplace, school or housing. It includes jokes that hurt your feelings, someone calling you a bad name, inappropriately touching you or wrongly denying you benefits.

For example, a supervisor or co-worker makes negative comments about your age, race or religious practices that you find offensive. As a result, you experience negative conditions at work. This would be discrimination in employment based on the protected grounds of age, race and religion.

Accommodation and Duty to Accommodate

Sometimes an employee may need to change how their work is done because of a disability or religious practice or reason related to another prohibited ground. The Code requires employers to try to accommodate - or make adjustments - so that the can do their job.

The employee and the employer need to cooperate to find a suitable accommodation. The employee must let their employer know they need an accommodation and will need to provide medical or other information. The employer needs to explore possible ways of changing the work, working conditions or work environment so the employee can do their job. This is what is meant by the term duty to accommodate. The employer is not required to make changes to the work or workplace if the accommodation would cause an undue hardship, such as causing a workplace to go bankrupt or creating a safety risk for the employee or others.

What to Do If You Think You Have Been Discriminated Against

If you think someone is discriminating against you, you can make a complaint to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, to address the harm the discrimination caused you. There is no cost to make a complaint and you do not need a lawyer to do this. Employees at the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission will answer your questions about the complaint process and assist you with filing a complaint.

Retaliation

It is illegal for your employer to fire you (lose your job) or reduce your hours of work, if you make a complaint of discrimination against them. This is called retaliation. You may seek financial compensation for any losses that result from retaliation.

Problems at Work

If you ever have a problem at work, speak to your work supervisor or your employer. If the problem continues after speaking to them, you can contact Saskatchewan's Immigration Services Program Integrity and Legislation Unit (PILU). The PILU was created to protect the rights of current and future immigrants in Saskatchewan, including temporary foreign workers, permanent residents and applicants to the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program. The PILU will review any complaint related to the mistreatment, abuse and exploitation of applicants and foreign workers while protecting their privacy and confidentiality.

Temporary Foreign Workers

As a temporary foreign worker, nobody has the right to keep your passport, work permit, or your visa. You should keep all of these documents in a safe place; they are proof that you have permission to stay in Canada.

An employer may ask to see your passport to ensure you are authorized to work in Canada; however, an employer can't keep your passport. If your employer or anyone has taken your passport from you, report this to the police immediately.

You may also want to report this to your embassy. To locate your country's embassy in Canada, visit Foreign Representatives in Canada.

Your employer cannot deport you or force you to leave Canada. The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) investigates immigration violations and removes people who do not have a right to enter or stay in Canada. You can be deported by CBSA if you commit a crime or do not follow Canadian immigration laws.

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