I was tooling around online looking for a new challenge, and I hit upon a couple of local businesses with openings in their offices in Canada.
Please note: This thread is not about work permits, Visas, or international worker rules.
It got me to wondering about the workplace culture there. Are offices in Canada fairly modern in culture? Or are they a little more old school?
For instance, how’s the work-life balance? Is it even a thing there? How many hours per week does the average employee work? Are salaried employees basically able to be used for any length of time? What about lunch breaks and vacation days? Do you get to actually use them? and how long/many do you get?
What about old-fashioned ideas about time? Is there a rigid work schedule with managers marking down every time you come in at 8:33 instead of 8:30? Or is the time flexible as long as you put your hours in and get the job done?
Are most companies fairly hierarchical? If I have a question or complaint, would I be censured for speaking about it to my bosses boss if I saw her at the water cooler?
Are cubicles as tiny and ubiquitous as they are in the USA?
Any other info I should have in order to judge whether I’d be a good fit? Other questions I should be asking?
Obviously, there is variation between companies and regions, but what’s the general tendency?
Work hours: 37.5 hours/wk, overtime at 1x for billable client work (IT does not have statutory overtime in Ontario)
Vacation: starts at 3 weeks/yr, we encourage everyone to take it.
Dress: casual end of business casual
Cubicles: yes, it’s a reality everywhere I have seen
Hierarchy: we’re fairly flat, but also a 50ish person shop
I think you’ll find these things vary from one business to another. Each with an individual culture, some with better work life balance than others, some more flexible with things, others more rigid, etc.
There really isn’t a single Canadian work culture, so I don’t know how anyone can honestly answer your questions outside of their specific employer.
Quebec, at least, has strong unions. I don’t know about overtime pay though.
My wife worked for a private company as a translator. It was pretty hierarchical. There was a dress code, to no apparent purpose since the translators never met the public. There was also a rule that no paper was to be left on a desk when she left for the day, again to no apparent purpose. Then the business was sold and those rules, while never rescinded, ceased being enforced. At first, she was in an office shared with another translator, but then the whole office was moved to another building and they got cubicles. She swears productivity went down. Nothing in this picture differs from what might have happened in the US.
It depends not only on the employer, but also the province - some provincial labour laws vary a bit.
I work in government - hours are general 0800 - 1600 with an hour for lunch, and I also have an hour for the gym. My time is pretty flexible, as long as the work gets done, they are less fussed about my arrival and departure times. If I needed, I could come in at 0800, and use my hour for gym at 1500 and go home, but I’d better pass my fitness assessments
Family is huge where I work - for example I am not able to attend an upcoming conference due to being a single parent, so I will teleconference in for my portion. My work is (obviously) divided by rank, but we are also super casual here, there is no issue with casual chat with the General, for example.
I am in a cubicle as well.
I have worked in corporate-world too, and I found them less flexible than my current job. I also had one job where I filed a claim after the fact for unpaid extreme overtime (I was salaried, but there are limits to what you can demand), and I got it paid.
You need to be honest and clear about what sort of work culture you are looking for. Work culture here has everything from 24/7 high pressure always on the job attitude to laid back work your own style shops. It is up to you to choose.
As others have said, the culture will vary tremendously with the employer. However, there are major legal differences.
For instance, labour standards laws in all provinces require the employer to give vacations. Starts at two weeks after your first year, then increases with time at that workplace.
No employment at will. An employer either needs cause to fire an employee, or must pay severance. Usually severance pay is two weeks to start with, but goes up with seniority at that employer. This is a big one, both individually and for a group of employees. I’ve heard of US companies that buy a Canadian company with the expectation that they can immediately fire employees at no cost, as part of “re-structuring”, and then had to re-think their plans when it is politely explained how much that would cost in pay-outs to the dismissed employees.
Guaranteed paternity/maternity leave of up to a year, with your job held for when you come back. While on leave, you get employment insurance (federal gouvernement programme). EI isn’t equivalent to your full salary, but some employers will top up EI to your regular salary.
“At will” employment is not operative in every US state, but living most of my life in Virginia, it’s been a reality. I can’t believe how draconian it is, and how many lives I’ve seen destroyed by it. Absolutely horrible.
When you all say “with an hour for lunch” is that hour paid - or is it just a break you have a right to walk away for? Do most people take a full hour away for their desks, in your experience?
As acknowledged in the OP. Do you have anything to offer re: your own experience?
I’m pretty sure Grey is saying s/he is from Canada or Europe, and is working this weekend. Which obviously happens occasionally. But in the US, it’s pretty much just assumed that you will
My Irish cousins take the attitude that if the jobs can’t be done in the 35 hours allotted, then more people need to be hired. Ditto the weekend hours. This seems to be the attitude throughout Europe, with France and Germany being the most protective of their workers.
I can’t help thinking this is part of why Germany has managed to be so stable through all of the financial ups and downs. Their individual workers don’t make as much money, but everybody can pretty much have a job. And those with jobs have time to spend their money, and raise their children. It strikes me as a much more positive system.
An hour for lunch? I’ve never had an hour for lunch.
A half hour is standard, although I had 40 minutes at my last place. But work hours were 8:15 to 4:25.
Pretty much everyone just eats lunch at their desk, in their cube.
Strongly encouraged. “Exempt employees” in the U.S. are exactly that, exempt from overtime pay requirements. If you work 40 or 80 hours in a week you make the same amount. Exempt employees are supposed to be well paid management level staff. However, the department of labor’s proposal to increase the minimum salary for exempt employees from $24,000 to $48,000 is currently on-hold.