Accredited Domestic Workers in Diplomatic Households – About your Rights and Protections

Welcome to Canada!

Canada is a strong supporter of human rights both at home and internationally. This webpage has been designed to inform you of your rights during your time in Canada as an accredited domestic worker.

Canadian law protects all workers in Canada, including domestic workers like you. The exploitation of a domestic worker may violate Canadian law and human rights.

The Office of Protocol of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada manages the Domestic Worker Accreditation Program and can be contacted at 343-203-3021 during normal working hours, namely from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, except on statutory holidays.

Your employer:

  • must pay you for your work (including overtime, where required);
  • must make sure that your workplace is safe;
  • must give you proper break time and days off;
  • must pay you by cheque or by electronic funds transfer in bank account set-up exclusively in your personal name (cash payments are prohibited);
  • cannot force you to perform duties for which you were not hired or trained;
  • cannot take your passport or Protocol identity card away from you;
  • cannot threaten to have you deported from Canada or to change your status in Canada;
  • cannot force to sign another employment contract with terms and conditions that are less favourable without the express consent of the Office of Protocol;
  • must provide adequate health insurance – no amounts must be deducted from your salary for this;
  • must pay transportation costs to and from Canada – no amounts must be deducted from your salary for this;
  • must pay you paid leave to attend mandatory outreach sessions with Canadian officials related to your labour rights and protections in Canada;
  • must provide accommodation, bathroom and personal cooking facilities, on a private or shared basis, within the same residence where you are employed – there is a maximum threshold on the amount that can be deducted from your salary for this; and
  • may charge for meals and accommodation, although this is limited to a maximum amount, which must be noted in your contract

In Canada, employment in most occupations is covered under provincial laws. Every province has an office that deals with labour and employment laws. A person at your local employment or labour standards office can talk to you about fair pay, hours of work, rest periods, working conditions and acceptable job duties, and may also provide other services.

For further information on all matters related to employment standards such as your contract, hours of work, minimum wage, termination of employment or your eligibility for certain benefits, please contact the provincial employment or labour standards offices.

Contact information and website addresses are available at the end of this webpage.

You can also contact the Office of Protocol of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada at 343-203-3021.

You do not need your employer’s permission to call these offices or visit their websites. They cannot punish you or have you deported for using these services.

Employment contracts

For their protection, domestic workers must sign an employment contract with their employers. Both you and your employer must comply with the terms and conditions of the contract and it should include:

  • your pay and deductions from your pay;
  • details of your job duties;
  • conditions of employment; and
  • Approval of the Office of Protocol of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada with a date.

The “conditions of employment” section of your contract should outline the maximum number of hours you will work each week and how much you will be paid if you work overtime. The laws regulating hours of work and overtime (extra time or time worked after regular hours) may vary depending on the province or territory where you are working.

You should keep a copy of the signed contract. If, in the future, you and your employer disagree about work details such as job duties, pay or working conditions, the contract may help you to resolve the issue and could be used to resolve a dispute.

Once you are in Canada, you must not sign another contract without pre-approval of the Office of Protocol of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

Your employer cannot force you to do something or go somewhere, even back to your home country, by withholding your pay.

Transfer to another employer

As a domestic worker, you are allowed to change employers, provided that you have been under accreditation for less than seven (7) years. Under such circumstances, your new employer, i.e. the diplomat, must have permission to hire you as a domestic worker from the Office of Protocol of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

If the Office of Protocol approves in principle the transfer, you will be required to sign an employment contract with the new employer.

If you lose your job

In most cases, your employer must give you written notice and termination pay before asking you to leave your job. However, your employer may not have to warn you if you are let go for a “just cause” (for example, serious misconduct or missing work without good reason).

If you have an employment contract for a specific period of time or a specific job, your employer does not have to give you notice when your contract ends.

The rules about the notice of employment termination may vary depending on the province or territory where you are working.

If your employer does not follow the law when he dismisses you, you can complain to the provincial or territorial employment or labour standards office.

Is your work safe?

Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Do I have proper training for the job I am doing and the machinery or equipment that I am using?
  • Do I have the right safety equipment to do the job?
  • Do I feel unsafe or afraid to get hurt when doing my job?
  • Do I work close to dangerous materials?

Refusing dangerous work

You have the right to refuse to work if you believe that the work you are doing or have been told to do is dangerous and that you don’t have the necessary training to perform the job duties or operate machinery.

Your employer cannot punish you for refusing dangerous work and must pay you until

  • the danger is removed;
  • you receive the necessary training and are ready to work;
  • you feel the problem no longer exists; or
  • a government official tells you that it is safe to do the work.

If you are hurt at work

Your employer must not deduct any money from your pay for your health insurance plan.

If you have an accident at work, talk to your employer at once and see a doctor right away if you believe you may need medical help.

Human Trafficking – A Serious Crime

Human traffickers recruit, transport, harbour or exercise control over the movements of a person for the purpose of exploiting their labour or services. Victims suffer physical, sexual or emotional abuse and often live and work in horrific conditions.

The Government of Canada condemns all acts of labour exploitation, including human trafficking. If you think that you are a victim of human trafficking or you suspect or know of human trafficking activity, please contact your local police at 911, or if you wish to remain anonymous, call your local Crime Stoppers Program at 1-800-222-8477.

Are you a victim of human trafficking?

You might be a victim of human trafficking if you answer “yes” to one of these questions:

  • Are you restricted from leaving the work site or your accommodation on your own?
  • Has someone taken away your passport or work permit from you?
  • Has your employer - or someone representing them - physically, sexually or psychologically abused you, or allowed it to happen to you?
  • Has your employer or someone representing your employer threatened you or your family member?
  • Do you fear something bad will happen to you or to a family member if you leave your job?

How do you identify a human trafficker?

Be aware that human traffickers entice and control their victims in a number of ways, such as:

  • Lying to victims about future employment, travel, living conditions or treatment;
  • Promising valid immigration and travel documents;
  • Making offers that sound too good to be true;
  • Threatening to harm the victim or the victim’s family;
  • Involving victims in criminal activities;
  • Moving victims from workplace to workplace against their will or forcing them into prostitution; and
  • Coaching victims on how to mislead officials.

Protection and assistance for victims of human trafficking

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) helps protect victims of human trafficking by securing their immigration status with a special temporary resident permit (TRP). An initial TRP may be issued for up to 180 days but, depending on the person’s situation, can be reissued at the end of the 180-day period.

Victims of human trafficking who receive a TRP are eligible for health-care services through the Interim Federal Health Program and may apply for an open work permit. For more information on TRPs, visit the website listed at the end of this document.

In Canada, victims of human trafficking are not required to testify against their trafficker to gain temporary or permanent resident status. There is no fee for an initial TRP or a work permit for victims of human trafficking.

TRP applications should be submitted in person at CIC local offices. For more information about the closest CIC office, call this toll-free number: 1-888-242-2100 (from within Canada only).

Information and resources

For more information about working in Canada and your rights, please refer to the following government sites. Please note that you do not need your employer’s permission to visit the following websites. Your employer cannot punish you or have you deported for using these services.