Operating a small business is exciting! There’s a lot happening at once, and to meet demand you often need to hire quickly.

Before you jump on that job posting, here are some issues to think about. Pre-planning can help you protect your interests, prevent problems and avoid costly mistakes.

  1. Are you hiring an employee or arranging for services from an independent contractor? There are important differences.
  2. When hiring employees:
    • What does employment standards legislation require of employers in your province or territory? *
    • Do your pay periods comply with that legislation? Do you take the right deductions?
    • Will your employees work full-time, or part-time? For a set period, or indefinitely?
    • Will you pay your employees by the hour, or a salary?
    • What overtime laws apply to your business?
    • What notice or pay in lieu of notice is required to end employment without “just cause”?
    • Do you know that you must issue a Record of Employment when employment ends?
  3. Did your employees or independent contractors sign agreements before they started work?
  4. Is your business registered with the workers compensation board in your province or territory?
  5. What steps have you taken to prevent illness and injuries? Occupational health & safety law violations can be serious.
  6. Does your business, including your employees, comply with human rights and privacy legislation? Have you got a process to investigate and address complaints?


*Most workplaces are covered by provincial or territorial laws, but some are regulated by the federal government. If that applies to your workplace, check the federal government website.


It’s very important you have the answers to these questions before hiring. If you’re not sure, get some legal advice.

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