By Globalization PartnersMarch 2016
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So many of our clients’ business strategies are taking them to our neighbor country to the north. Often, the first foray into hiring internationally is making that hire close to home. English speaking Canada with its vibrant workforce is a natural fit for many of our clients. As such, they typically believe hiring there will be straightforward and relatively easy. What our clients discover is that hiring in Canada is far more complicated than they anticipated.
Recently, a client came to us complaining that the entire process for making a new hire in Canada was “driving her around the bend”. She couldn’t figure out how register her US company to make payroll without a full subsidiary or deal with the group benefits structure. She is not alone. We speak to many HR professionals each week who regularly encounter these same issues.
If your company is considering a direct hire in Canada this year, here are a few things to know before you go:
- Labor legislation in Canada is onerous. There is no such thing as “at will” employment in there. In addition, US companies must become familiar with and make provisions for a variety of labor acts including the Human Rights Act, anti-bullying and anti-discrimination legislation. This can mean putting together a comprehensive set of ongoing training sessions and materials to ensure Canadian employees are informed. Otherwise, there is ample room for a lawsuit.
- If a US based company pays a Canadian employee directly from the US, the IRS will consider these employees to be US taxable and go after them for US taxes owed as a result of the work they performed in Canada. Understandably, the Canadian employee will be unhappy with having to pay US tax and even more unhappy that he or she will not be able to contribute to Canada Pension or unemployment insurance. Also, these employees will be ineligible for Canadian Group Benefit plans.
- Canadian workers expect a Group Benefit Plan coverage over and above the free coverage they already enjoy as Canadians. A US based company can only source its own Group Benefit Plan if it has a head office in Canada or a signator there. Hence, the issue our most recent client encountered as she tried to navigate the road to payroll and appropriate benefits.
Many US companies mistakenly believe they can side step the bureaucracy and make a Canadian contractor hire. In Canada, this is nearly impossible as there is a very tight definition authorities use to classify a hire as an independent contractor. There is a significant risk that the contractor will be reclassified as an employee and that opens up Pandora’s box to a whole host of tax and liability issues.
Though there are many opportunities in Canada, hiring is difficult and best done with or through a trusted partner. Globalization Partners can help you make that perfect hire in Canada, legally and smoothly. We can help you decipher the labor legislation and navigate group benefit options to cut through the red tape and get to market quickly. For more information, contact a member of our team for help.