Know your rights as a Temporary Foreign Worker

While living and working in B.C. as a temporary foreign resident, you have many of the same rights as British Columbians.

If you are in B.C. under the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program, there are rules that your employer needs to follow. If your  employer is not following the terms of your employment agreement or if you suspect that your employer is abusing or misusing the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, you can contact Employment and Social Development Canada’s confidential tip line at 1-866-602-9448 or use the Online Fraud Reporting Tool.

If you have questions or concerns but don’t know who to contact, call the WorkBC Contact Centre at 1-877-952-6914. Staff will listen to your situation and give you the contact details for the right organization.

Read the topics below to learn more about your rights and what to do if you feel your rights are not being respected.

Employment Standards

All workers regardless of their immigration status are covered by the B.C. Employment Standards Act.  The Act provides basic employment protections in most workplaces, including minimum wage, overtime pay, statutory holiday pay, vacation entitlement and vacation pay. If you want more information on employment standards or have a complaint against your employer, contact the Employment Standards Branch at 1-800-663-3316. If you are a member of a union through your employment, you should contact your union representative to receive information about protections and your rights and responsibilities.

Workplace Safety

When you work in B.C., you have the right to a safe work environment. This right is protected by the B.C. Workers Compensation Act, which sets out provisions for workplace health and safety standards and assistance for injured workers. You have the right to refuse unsafe work. You should always speak to your employer first if you have any questions or concerns about safety in the workplace. If you continue to experience workplace conditions that are dangerous or violate safety standards, contact WorkSafeBC at 1-888-621-SAFE (7233).

Health Care

Temporary foreign residents can qualify for B.C.’s Medical Service Plan (MSP) if they are making their home in B.C. and their work permit is valid for six months or more. All new and returning residents are required to fulfill a wait period. The wait period is the balance of the month in which residence is established plus two months. If your work permit is issued after arrival in B.C., the wait begins from the date your work permit is issued. If your work permit limits you to a certain employer, including under the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program, your employer must provide you with health insurance during the wait period and enrol you in MSP. If you have an open work permit, you are responsible for enrolling yourself in MSP and arranging your own health insurance during the wait period.
 
MSP covers basic health care needs such as visits to the doctor or hospital. It does not include expenses such as dentistry, optometry, or ambulance services. To find out more about what is covered, contact MSP at 1-800-663-7100.

Housing

When you rent a place to live in B.C., you have certain rights and responsibilities to your landlord and the rented property. As a tenant in B.C., your rights are protected by the Residential Tenancy Act. These provisions include limiting rent increases and receiving 24 hours’ notice before the landlord is allowed to enter the property. For more information on your tenancy rights or if you are having a dispute with your landlord, contact the Residential Tenancy Branch at 1-800-665-8779.

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking occurs when a person is exploited through coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, or abuse of power. Human trafficking can include sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, and domestic servitude. Human trafficking is a crime. If you think you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, contact the local police or call the 24 hour human trafficking hotline at 1-888-712-7974.