Farm workers' rights

Worker cutting grapes in vineyard

Farm workers are covered by most sections of the main provincial law that protects workers in BC. But there are exceptions. Learn how they affect the rights of farm workers.

Common questions

Farm workers have rights under BC’s Employment Standards Act, the main law that protects workers. For the most part, farm workers have the same rights as other workers covered by this law. For example, they have the right to earn a minimum wage and get notice or pay if they’re fired. But there are some exceptions.

For example, farm workers aren’t entitled to overtime pay. They’re also excluded from statutory holiday entitlements.

For more, see our in-depth coverage.

Farm workers (including temporary foreign workers) are covered by BC’s main employment standards law, the Employment Standards Act. This law sets minimum standards for things like minimum wage and how much notice you’re entitled to. If your employer isn’t following the minimum standards under this law, you can file a complaint with the Employment Standards Branch.

All workers have the right to be protected from discrimination at work. Your employer (or co-workers) cannot treat you differently based on certain protected characteristics. If they do, you may be able to start a human rights claim.

For more, see our in-depth info on your rights as a farm worker.

Yes. All BC employers — including farmers and farm labour contractors — must pay into the workers’ compensation program. If you’re hurt on the job or you get sick on the job, you can apply for benefits.

WorkSafeBC, the government office that administers the program, will assess your application and make a decision on your claim.

For more, see our in-depth info on making a claim for workers’ compensation.

Maybe. To be eligible, you must have worked a certain number of hours in a job covered by the employment insurance program.

Generally, farm workers working under a contract of service for an employer are covered by the EI program. However, farm workers often have trouble getting EI benefits because they haven’t worked enough hours in a year to be eligible. The number of hours needed to make a claim varies, depending on where you live.

For more, see our in-depth info on applying for EI.

A farm labour contractor helps agricultural producers connect with and hire farm workers. Farm labour contractors must get a licence from the BC government and follow certain rules. They have to deposit money with the government to ensure they’ll follow these rules. The government can use this money to pay you if a farm labour contractor hasn’t paid you for work you’ve done.

Farm labour contractors must keep records that show:

  • the dates you work,
  • the type of crops you pick each day, and
  • the amount of crops you pick each day.

As well, all vehicles used to take you to a job site must be maintained to certain safety standards.

For more, see our in-depth info on your rights as a farm worker.

Who can help

BC government logo, for use on cards such as Employment Standards Branch
Employment Standards Branch
Administers the law in BC that sets minimum standards for workers.
Call 1-800-663-3316Visit website

  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Reviewed in August 2021
  • Time to read: 3 minutes

Reviewed for legal accuracy by

Richard Johnson, Ascent Employment Law and Amanda Aziz, Migrant Workers Centre

Richard Johnson, Ascent Employment Law
Amanda Aziz, Migrant Workers Centre

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This information from People’s Law School explains in a general way the law that applies in British Columbia, Canada. The information is not intended as legal advice. See our disclaimer.

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On Dial-A-Law

Dial-A-Law has more information on Rights at work in the section on Work.