Employment standards: Farm and ranch legislation

The government has consulted with farmers and ranchers to develop employment standards that reflect the unique aspects of the industry.

Employment standards webinar

Learn how the Employment Standards Code will apply to farms and ranches during these one-hour information webinars. Register here.


Employment standards legislation sets minimum standards for hours of work, overtime, overtime pay, holidays and general holiday pay, vacations, vacation pay, minimum wage and employees under the age of 18.

Employment standards changes that apply to the agricultural sector come into effect Jan 1, 2018.

Farmers and ranchers were consulted through technical working groups to help government understand the unique aspects of the industry that need to be accommodated.

Who’s affected

Employment standards will only apply to farms and ranches with waged, non-family employees.

Rules do not apply to:

  • farm owners
  • family members of farm owners
  • non-employee relatives, friends and neighbours helping out
  • children doing chores or participating in activities such as 4-H or helping neighbours and friends
  • participating in recreational activities such as hunting on farmland

Exemptions to employment standards

The following special rules apply to waged, non-family workers as of Jan 1, 2018:

  • Hours of work and overtime – farms and ranches are not subject to the current standards on hours of work and overtime due to the extended working hours required during harvest and seeding.
  • General holiday pay – will be based on 4.2% of the previous 4 weeks’ wages.
  • Rest periods – employees are entitled to 4 days of rest for every 28 days of work. Selection of the days of rest is at the employers discretion if the employer and employee can’t agree.

Employment standards

The following rules apply to waged, non-family workers as of Jan 1, 2018:

  • Minimum wage
    • $13.60 per hour; increases to $15 per hour Oct 1, 2018
  • Unpaid, job-protected leaves after 90 days of work
    • maternity leave (16 weeks)
    • parental leave (37 weeks)
    • reservist leave (as needed)
    • compassionate care leave (27 weeks)
    • bereavement leave (3 days)
    • domestic violence leave (10 days)
    • citizenship ceremony leave (half day)
    • critical illness of a child leave (36 weeks)
    • long-term illness and injury leave (16 weeks)
    • personal and family responsibility leave (5 days)
    • death or disappearance of a child leave (52 weeks/104 weeks)
  • Vacations and vacation pay
    • 2 weeks of vacation after one year employment, 3 weeks of vacation after 5 years, or
    • 4% up to 5 years of employment, 6% after 5 years
  • Administration and enforcement (e.g. permitting process, complaints, appeals)

Family members

Employment standards do not apply to family members of the owner or owner's spouse, common-law partner or adult-interdependent partner. Owner means a shareholder, sole proprietor or partner.

All of the following are considered family members:

  • children, step-children
  • parent, step-parent
  • sibling, half-sibling, step-sibling
  • grandparent, step-grandparent
  • aunt, uncle, step-aunt or uncle
  • niece, nephew
  • first cousin

Youth workers

While there are special rules for the employment of youth to protect their well-being and education, children doing chores on the farm or helping out around the home are not considered to be in an employment relationship or performing "work."

Changes to youth employment rules will have no effect on youth activities such as 4-H or branding parties and won’t stop friends and neighbours from helping each other as they have done for generations.

The following rules will apply only to waged, non-family employees:

  • children aged 12 and under – prohibited from work, except for artistic endeavors approved by permit from Employment Standards.
  • youth aged 13-15 – allowed to do light work only and no hazardous work. Jobs not on the light work list will require a permit.
  • youth aged 16-17 – allowed to do hazardous work with a permit, proper training and supervision.

NOTE: These changes will only come into effect after an updated list of allowable light work jobs and a definition for hazardous work has been created. Additional information will be available Jan 1, 2018.

Greenhouses, nurseries, mushroom and sod farms

These operations are not considered farms under the Employment Standards Code, so regular rules apply.

We will consult with the industry to determine if special rules are required.