HR Compliance

We find that 80% of what managers deal with is people issues. You can remedy that with a handbook that sets clear ground rules for all employees.
Adam Nalepa
Senior Business Advisor, BDC Advisory Services

Employee Handbook

One of the key components of a business’ HR compliance requirements is the Employee Handbook.  This document outlines all the important information that an employee needs to understand how to navigate the workplace and should be distributed to new employees during the Onboarding process.  Specific training and discussion of the content should take place at that time to ensure new employees have a thorough understanding of the policies in it.  A signoff acknowledging the training and receipt of the handbook should be attained and kept in an employee file.  The Employee Handbook and its’ policies should be reviewed on a yearly basis and any substantial changes would require a redistribution of the handbook to all employees for training and signoff.  The following components should be included:

  • Workplace policies
  • Code of Conduct
  • Mission Statement
  • Organizational Chart
  • Hours of work, vacation, paid time off, and other leave policies
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Safety Policy and Safety Committee information
  • Performance management procedures (i.e., quarterly/annual review)
  • Dress code, including required PPE

An effective handbook can be more than just a compliance document.  It can also describe the culture and values of the business and provide the employer with the opportunity to begin engaging with new employees to successfully integrate them into the team.  The handbook showcases the benefits of working for the business and outlines the expectations set for each new employee.

To review a checklist on the required policies for BC, click the button below

HR's Role

HR takes a leadership role with the development the policies, the distribution and collection of signoffs and, when necessary, the training on the content of the Employee Handbook during the Onboarding process.  HR should be aware of any changes to the Employment Standards Act of BC, WorkSafe BC policies, or any other legislation that would apply to the workplace and make the appropriate updates to the handbook.  Any internal changes or upgrades to important employee centre supports or guidelines, such as new benefits or performance review processes would require an updated Employee Handbook, and appropriate training or communication when needed.

Download an outline of an Employee Handbook designed for VAW employers. 

Employment Standards Act of BC

All BC employers are responsible to know and understand the laws and regulations of the Employment Standards Act of BC and ensure their processes and procedures align with its’ requirements. The Act establishes an employers’ obligations on topics such as pay, hours of work and safety and sets out minimum standards for wages and working conditions for most workplaces in the province.  It addresses such requirements as hours of work, time off, notice, severance pay and other topics.  The standards promote fair treatment and work-life balance for employees.

Special rules apply to hiring certain types of employees such as young people, domestics, and farm labourers and are outlined in the Act.  Some of the areas the Act does not cover include workplace safety or injuries (covered by WorkSafe BC), Employment Insurance or Record of Employment or complaints and disputes under the Human Rights Act.

The B.C. Labour Relations Code defines the rights and obligations that apply to a workplace with a union.  The Guide to the Labour Relations Code describes how it works and can be found at  An agreement between an employer and its unionized workers, called a collective agreement, defines wages and working conditions.  Under the Code, any employee is free to be a member of a trade union and participate in its lawful activities.

HR's Role

HR has an important role in guiding, communicating and monitoring for compliance the requirements of the Employment Standards Act of BC in the workplace.  HR should collaborate with senior leaders to implement procedures that are compliant with the Act, communicate any changes  to employees and continue to monitor for any discrepancies between the requirements of the Act and business processes. 

Records Management and PIPA

The Personal Information Protection Act governs the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by businesses in BC.  It protects the rights of individuals and their personal information and requires businesses to collect, use or disclose personal information only for purposes that are reasonable and appropriate for the circumstances. For more information specifically on PIPA and its’ requirements, read the following:

A business must establish appropriate record keeping processes and keep reliable, accurate and complete records.  Employee files containing information such as performance reviews, training certificates, discipline documentation should be stored on site and in a secure location, either as paper records or electronically, accessed only by designated employees.

According to the BC Government, employers need to keep the following records for each employee:

  • The employee’s name, date of birth, job title, phone number and residential address
  • The date the employment began
  • The employee’s wage rate
  • The hours worked each day, regardless of the employee’s wage rate
  • The benefits paid to the employee
  • The employee’s gross and net wages for each pay period
  • The amount and reason for each deduction from the employee’s wages
  • The dates of the statutory holidays taken by the employee and the amounts paid
  • The dates of the annual vacation taken, the amounts paid, and the days and amounts owing
  • The amounts paid from the employee’s time bank, dates taken and remaining balance
  • Employers need to keep these records in English at their principal place of business in B.C. for 4 years after each record was created.

Employers also need to keep records about reimbursing employees for cleaning and maintaining special clothing for 4 years, agreements about substituting another day for a statutory holiday for 4 years and averaging agreements for 4 years after the latest expiry date in the agreement

HR's Role

Along with the payroll and finance team, HR should ensure that the record keeping procedures in place meet the standards.  An employee may request to view their own employee file by submitting a written request to HR or the identified designated person, with a minimum of 48 hours notice.  The process to view their own employee file should be outlined in the Employee Handbook.