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A minimum wage is the lowest hourly pay employers can legally pay their employees. In Canada, the minimum wage varies by province and territory, with each jurisdiction setting its own rules and regulations regarding employee compensation.
The intention behind a minimum wage is to ensure workers are paid fairly for their work. Minimum wage laws act to protect workers from unfair pay, and in doing so, help to combat poverty and improve living standards.
In 2017, the Province of British Columbia created the Fair Wages Commission to research the state of employee compensation and recommend changes to minimum wage laws in the province. The government aimed to investigate whether the minimum wage legislation in place was sufficient to address the economic realities of those working for the lowest wages.
Continue reading to learn about British Columbia minimum wage laws and how they’ve changed over the years.
British Columbia Minimum Wage Rate
The current minimum wage rate, implemented on June 1, 2020, is $14.60 per hour. This rate will remain in effect until June 1, 2021, at which point it will increase to $15.20 per hour.
The province’s $15 minimum wage target is the result of a recommendation by the Fair Wages Commission, which conducted a study of the British Columbia labour market to determine the optimal minimum wage rate.
The Commission’s report brought attention to the large number of people who earn the minimum wage in British Columbia ($11.35 per hour at the time). It discovered that the current rate was insufficient to cover basic living expenses. The report suggested a gradual increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour would benefit many workers and alleviate poverty.
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The province eventually implemented a plan for a $15 per hour general minimum wage. Below is the timeline for the $15 per hour target wage:
- September 15, 2017 – $11.35 per hour
- June 1, 2018 – $12.65 per hour
- June 1, 2019 – $13.85 per hour
- June 1, 2020 – $14.60 per hour
- June 1, 2021 – $15.20 per hour
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Exceptions to The BC Minimum Wage Rate
Minimum wage legislation in British Columbia has provisions to address workers who earn alternate wages. These workers are not subject to the same general minimum wage rules most other workers are – they have special rates due to the nature of their occupations.
This category of workers includes those who primarily serve food and/or liquor to customers at a premise that holds a liquor license. It doesn’t pertain to hosts/hostesses, bussers, kitchen staff, and staff who only mix or pour liquor. These workers are paid the general minimum wage.
Here is how the minimum wage for liquor servers has changed in recent years:
- June 1, 2018 – $11.40 per hour
- June 1, 2019 – $12.70 per hour
- June 1, 2020 – $13.95 per hour
- June 1, 2021 – $15.20 per hour
The Government of British Columbia will eliminate the liquor server wage by 2021. At that point, it will equal the general minimum wage of $15.20.
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Live-in Camp Leaders
Live-in camp leaders perform tasks related to camping, which include facilitating group activities and supervising campers. They are paid a minimum daily rate, which has increased the last few years at the same rate as the general minimum wage. Camp leaders must be employed by a charity or non-profit organization that runs camping programs for those under 19 years of age to be eligible for the minimum daily rate.
Here is how the daily rate has changed over the last several years:
- June 1, 2018 – $101.24 per day
- June 1, 2019 – $110.87 per day
- June 1, 2020 – $116.86 per day
- June 1, 2021 – $121.65 per day
Live-in Home Support Workers
Live-in-home support workers provide personal care for seniors and people with disabilities. Though these workers can be self-employed, the alternate minimum wage requirements apply only to those who work for a government-funded organization.
By law, live-in support workers must be paid a prescribed minimum daily rate, which is currently $113.50 per day. However, due to the strict criteria that must meet to be classified as live-in home support workers, few are eligible for the minimum daily rate. Instead, their occupation is governed by general minimum wage rules.
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This worker category refers to individuals who live in an apartment building with eight or more suites and perform janitorial, caretaking, or management duties on the premises. Resident caretakers have a unique minimum wage that’s calculated on a monthly basis and is based on the number of suites in the building.
Here is how the minimum wage has changed for resident caretakers over the years:
- June 1, 2018 – $759.32 per month for buildings with 9 – 60 suites + $30.43 per suite or $2,586.40 for buildings with more than 60 suites.
- June 1, 2019 – $831.45 per month for buildings with 9 – 60 units $33.32 per suite or $2,832.1 for buildings with more than 60 suites.
- June 1, 2020 – $876.35 per month for buildings with 9 – 60 suites + $35.12 per suite or $2,985.04 for buildings with more than 60 suites.
- June 1, 2021 – $912.28 per month for buildings with 9 – 60 suites + $36.56 per suite or $3,107.42 for buildings with more than 60 suites.
For further information about alternate minimum wage rules, visit the Government of British Columbia website.
Statutory Holiday Pay
If you work on a statutory holiday, you’re entitled to statutory holiday pay (provided you qualify). Here is the formula for calculating your statutory holiday pay:
Total wages/number of days worked (use only the last 30 calendar days before the statutory holiday) = statutory holiday pay
When calculating your statutory holiday pay, ensure you include your total compensation, including wages, salary, commission, holiday pay, and vacation pay. Exclude overtime.
Here are the rules that pertain to work done on statutory holidays:
- Your employer must pay you time-and-a-half or all hours you work on a statutory holiday and double-time for every hour worked over 12 hours.
- If you don’t qualify for statutory holiday pay, your employer must pay you your regular hourly rate
- Your employer must pay you statutory holiday pay for a day off that coincides with a statutory holiday.
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Minimum Wage and Hours Worked
Your employer must schedule you to work a minimum of two hours each workday. They are required to compensate you for at least two hours’ worth of work when you show up for your regular shift, even when there’s no work to be done.
Your employer can request that you work overtime. The standard work hours in British Columbia are eight hours per day and 40 hours per week. If you work more than eight hours in a day or more than 40 hours in a week, labour rules dictate that your employer must pay you time-and-a-half for the extra hours. If you work for more than 12 hours in a single day, you’re entitled to double-time pay.
Minimum Wage Deductions in British Columbia
Your employer can deduct money from your wages if they are legally obligated to do so or if you’ve entered into an agreement with them where you approve the deduction.
Mandatory deductions include:
- Federal income tax
- Employment insurance (EI)
- Canada Pension Plan Contributions (CPP)
- Court-ordered wage garnishments
If you agree in writing, your employer can also deduct the following:
- Medical premiums
- Repayment of advances
- Purchases you made from your employer.
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How has British Columbia’s minimum wage changed over the years?
Minimum wage rates in British Columbia have increased dramatically over the last several years, as fair wages and the rising living costs continue to be top concerns for voters. Should living standards and employment prospects for British Columbia residents deteriorate in the future, we’ll undoubtedly see further increases in the minimum wage. Though some would argue that the minimum wage hurts business, it’s clear that most people’s living standards have increased due to this critical piece of legislation. Minimum wages laws are here to stay.
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