Is your firm planning
to enter the
Canadian market?

A Short HR Guide for International Firms

By: Kathryn Benson
Senior Human Resources Consultant, HR Options

Doing business in Canada presents a great opportunity for international firms.  But hiring Canadian employees is complex. You must comply with Canada’s employment laws or risk penalties or lawsuits if you get it wrong.

There are three things you need to do: 


Comply with Canadian employment laws - both federal and provincial

There are strong protections for Canadian employees in both federal and provincial law.  Wherever you do business, you are responsible for implementing compliant policies for:

  • Hiring employees

  • Vacation and holidays

  • Overtime pay 

  • Classification of employees 

  • Health benefits

  • Health and safety 

  • Workplace harassment and violence

  • Worker’s comp

  • Performance reviews

  • Discipline and terminations 


Make all of the right payments to the government and your employees

You must pay the right taxes at the right time to the right government agency. You also need to make sure that your employees are paid properly. Your payroll must accurately account for:

  • Taxes

  • Benefits

  • Retirement Savings Plans

  • Accrued vacation

  • Overtime

There are strong protections for Canadian employees in both federal and provincial law.

Before determining how you will administer your payroll and remit your taxes, it is important to understand responsibilities of vendors and partners.

Companies that don’t have significant expertise in Canadian HR should look for vendors who will not will only follow your direction, but will also insure that you are fully compliant with employment laws.


Communicate with employees that you are in compliance

Best practices in Canadian HR include significant documentation of major events in your relationship with employees.  We recommend that you have clear documentation in each employee’s file, so that you protect your company should a dispute arise.  Essential documents include:

  • Engagement letter outlining the mutually agreed upon terms and agreements of employment

  • Performance reviews, especially if specific performance improvement has been requested of the employee

  • A record of any disciplinary action

  • Record of employment – when employees leave, they are entitled to a written record of their employment

  • Notice of termination

Getting into action:

If your company is planning to employ Canadian workers, it is important that your company works with an expert in Canadian HR. There are too many pitfalls to attempt the journey without a guide.  The options you can consider are:

  • Hire an employee who brings expertise

  • Hire a consultant who can help you set up your HR in a compliant manner, and be with you every step

  • Choose an outsourced employer of record who will handle your administrative HR and payroll 

About HR Options

HR Options helps international companies entering Canada navigate Canadian Employment laws and use HR best practices.

We offer two types of services:

Canadian Outsourced Employment Services deliver full-service HR to international companies doing business in Canada. 
HR Consulting provides expert advice and implementation on Canadian HR on a fractional or project basis.


I'd be delighted to understand your situation and help guide you to make the right decision for your organization.

Nunzio Presta | 289.333.2132 |

Sr. Sales & Marketing Executive