Work Usage in Montreal


The Commissions des Normes du Travail (Labor Standards in Québec) regulates all regulations and standards for the province.

Working Hours

Normal business hours are 9:00-17:00, but many businesses have longer or different opening hours.

In Québec, the legal working time is set at 40 hours a week and working overtime is authorized and often paid extra. The hours worked in addition to the hours of the normal workweek must be paid with a 50% premium in addition to the regular hourly rate (time and a half), without counting the premiums available on an hourly basis such as night shift premiums. Each week, an employee is entitled to a rest period of at least 32 consecutive hours. In the case of a farm worker, his day of rest may be postponed to the following week if he is in agreement.

    Length of the normal workweek
  • Employees of the clothing industry - 39 hours
  • Watchmen who guard a property on behalf of a firm providing surveillance services - 44 hours
  • Watchmen who do not work for a firm providing surveillance services - 60 hours
  • Employees working in a forestry operation or a sawmill - 47 hours

Breaks and Meals

An employer is under no obligation to offer coffee breaks, but when a coffee break is granted, it must be paid and included in the calculation of the hours worked.

After a period of work of 5 consecutive hours, the employee is entitled to a 30-minute period, without pay, for his meal. He must be paid for this period if he is unable to leave his work station.


The minimum wage in Québec is $9.90, with the exception of employees receiving tips earning $8.55 an hour. An employer has one month to give an employee his first pay. Thereafter, the pay must be issued at regular intervals that may not exceed 16 days, or one month in the case of senior managerial personnel or contract employees. If pay day falls on a statutory holiday, the employee must be paid on the working day preceding this holiday. Wages may be paid:

  • by cheque cashable within 2 working days
  • in cash in a sealed envelope addressed to the employee
  • by bank transfer if a written agreement exists between the employer and the employee.
For complete standards and exceptions, consult


A modern, competitive city, Montréal offers competitive salaries within Canada and in the global market.

    Example Salaries
  • Administrative Assistant $36,573
  • Graphic Artist / Designer $39,256
  • Executive Assistant $49,829
  • Software Developer $54,654
  • Software Engineer $59,142
  • Project Manager, Information Technology (IT) $73,502


In Québec, signing a written work contract is not mandatory. Verbal contracts are widespread. It is common to be hired quite easily, but dismissals can also be rapid. In theory, an employment contract should be in writing and the employee should read and understand all conditions before signing. If it is in a language other than your mother tongue, you should allow a trusted advisor (like a lawyer or close friend) that is fluent in that language to inspect it.

A probation period generally applies (from a few days to several months).

    There are three main kinds of employment contracts:
  • Limited Time Contract - Ends after a set period of time.
  • Specific Work Contract - Usually is for specific work and when the work is completed, the contract is finished.
  • Indeterminate Contracts - For permanent jobs which can only be terminated according to the terms of the contract regarding notice periods and severance pay.


An employee has been terminated when an employer brings the contract of employment to an end. This may be due to redundancy (lay-off) or dismissal because of fault of the employee. An employer must give the employee a written notice of termination of employment before terminating his contract of employment or laying him off for a period of more than 6 months. At the end of a contract for a fixed term or if the employee has completed the task for which he had been hired, the employer is not required to give this notice. The time periods for giving the employee the notice vary according to his length of uninterrupted service.

    Required notice time
  • Less than 3 months of uninterrupted service - no notice required
  • 3 months to one year - one week notice
  • 1 to 5 years - 2 weeks notice
  • 5 to 10 years - 4 weeks notice
  • 10 years or more - 8 weeks notice

Time Off

Almost all workers have the right to paid leave. Only people who are self-employed and a few other exceptions will not be entitled to statutory paid holiday.

Entitlement to a vacation is acquired during a period of 12 consecutive months. Known as the reference year, this period extends from May 1st to April 30th. The length of vacation is established based on the employee's period of uninterrupted service. As for the amount of the indemnity, it varies according to the wages earned during the reference year in effect in the enterprise.

    In general,
  • If you have been employed less than one year - entitled to 1 day per full month without exceeding 2 weeks
  • If you have been employed 1-5 years - entitled to 2 uninterrupted weeks
  • If you have been employed 5 years or more - entitled to 3 uninterrupted weeks
To understand how leave applies and how to calculate the indemnity, consult the National Holiday Act. Consult the Guide's section on "Social Security" for information on paternity/maternity leave, etc.


The majority of Québec employees are entitled to an indemnity or a compensatory leave for statutory holidays. These are days where most public/government offices and many private businesses will be closed.

  • January 1st (New Year's Day)
  • Good Friday or Easter Monday (employer's choice)
  • Monday preceding May 25th (National Patriots' Day)
  • June 24th (St-Jean-Baptiste/Fête de la Saint-Jean/Fête Nationale - National Holiday)
  • July 1st (If this date falls on a Sunday it is moved to July 2nd)
  • 1st Monday in September (Labour Day)
  • 2nd Monday in October (Thanksgiving)
  • December 25th (Christmas Day)

Montréalers also commonly celebrate

  • Valentine's Day (February 14)
  • Mother's Day (second Sunday in May)
  • Father's Day (third Sunday in June)
  • Halloween (October 31)
although these are not legal holidays. Depending on their origins, Montréalers might also celebrate Muslim holidays or Jewish holidays, the Asian lunar new year, or other saints' days or national holidays. A major parade is also held on a Sunday near St. Patrick's Day (March 17). The last two weeks of July are traditionally Québec construction holiday with many unionized workers taking these two weeks off.

Update 21/05/2013


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