Employers must pay wages to foreigners who don’t have social insurance numbers

Shelby Thevenot
Published: September 4, 2020

Canada’s immigration department has specified that Canadian employers must pay foreign workers even if they do not yet have their Social Insurance Number (SIN).

Though workers still have to apply for the SIN within three days of starting employment, they do not have to get their number to start working but they have to give it to their employer within three days of receipt.

The Social Insurance Number is a nine-digit number that allows people to work in Canada, or have access to government programs. It is used for identity purposes, and it is illegal for someone to use someone else’s number. Service Canada offers a list of the programs that require a SIN. They also provide a list of circumstances where it is not required since the SIN is a sensitive document. Employers need access to their employees’ SIN after they are hired.

You have the job offer. Now get the work permit. Contact a lawyer today.

There are a number of stipulations that Canadian employers must comply with when hiring foreign workers under the International Mobility Program, for instance, they must provide the foreign national with employment in the same occupation, with the same wages, and working conditions that are “substantially the same as— but not less favourable than—” those set out in the offer of employment.

Employer compliance and inspections

In terms of wages, employers must pay foreign workers no less than what is outlined in the offer of employment. Any deductions to a worker’s pay must be stated in the offer. An increase in wages may indicate a change in duties, which could mean the employee is now working in a different occupation than what is stated in the offer. Sometimes an increase in wages also results in employer non-compliance if the increase would have affected the foreign worker’s ability to qualify for the Labour Market Impact Assessment exemption.

While mandatory quarantine requirements are in place, all newcomers to Canada must self-isolate for 14 days. Employers must still pay their employees the wages indicated on the offer of employment during this time.

Employers may be subject to inspections by officials working on behalf of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Inspections ensure that employers of foreign national workers are upholding their responsibilities, thereby ensuring that workers are not mistreated.

There are three circumstances where an employer could be selected for an inspection:

  • there is reason to suspect non-compliance;
  • the employer has been found non-compliant in the past; or
  • the employer has been selected randomly.

The employer who submits the offer of employment to IRCC to hire a temporary worker will be responsible for meeting the program conditions. They may be selected for inspection at any time after the first day the temporary worker is employed and up to six years after their work permit has been issued.

Employers who had an authorized representative submit offers of employment on their behalf are still responsible for complying with all inspection activities and requests.

Have a job offer? Contact a lawyer who specializes in work permits.

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