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Tree planting and silviculture jobs involve hard work. Workers often have questions about the labour regulations that apply to their job, and this article includes answers to some common questions regarding employment standards for silviculture workers.

Readers should note that this article focuses specifically on “silviculture workers”, which is defined in regulation and limited to workers in tree planting, brushing, cone-picking, and other associated jobs in forestry where they are paid on a piece-rate basis. This also includes crew leaders and supervisors who are paid piece-rate based on the production of their crew. Silviculture workers that are paid a salary or hourly rate are entitled to minimum wage and the protection of all standard sections of the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and Regulation but are excluded from this discussion focused on Section 37.9 of the Regulation. Workers that are paid piece-rate, which includes the majority of tree planters and brushers and cone pickers, have special protections to help ensure they are properly compensated for their labour.

It is important to note that the Employment Standards Act outlines general principles of employer-employee relationships, while the Employment Standards Regulation (ESR) outlines more clearly defined requirements, including those that apply to specific jobs such as silviculture work.

This article deals specifically with regulations in British Columbia. Due to differences in regulations, a separate article or list of considerations is required for Alberta and other provinces. The information in this article is also subject to updates based on case law decisions, changes in policy interpretations, and changes in minimum wage or prescribed levels of holiday pay and vacation pay.

The current version of the article was last updated on June 1, 2023.

A Point of History

While Section 37.9 of the ESR includes many requirements, certain questions commonly arise regarding pay for silviculture workers. Many of these questions can be difficult to answer without considering the application of the ESA, section 37.9 of the ESR, and the policy interpretations used by the Ministry of Labour to apply the regulation.

Furthermore, certain sections of the ESA do not apply to silviculture workers (Sections 33, 35, 36 (1), 37, 40 and 42 (2)) as a result of the application of 37.9 of the ESR. Also, some issues can depend upon the way in which an employer has written their employment contract (or agreement) with the workers, and the variation in these agreements and in payroll systems can sometimes result in questions that cannot be answered without a decision from the Employment Standards Tribunal.

However, here is a short list of the most common questions:

Does minimum wage apply to tree planters and other silviculture workers?

How are hours of work and overtime calculated?

How often am I supposed to be paid?

How often should I have a day off?

What kind of records should I keep of my work activities?

Can deductions be taken from my pay for overclaim of trees? What about damaged equipment?

Do I have to be paid for replanting? What about other tasks such as unloading trees?

Can my employer hold back my “bonus” or other money if I leave before the end of a contract?

What is a “probationary period”?

Am I entitled to paid sick leave in British Columbia?

Do I need to be told the piece-rate (tree price or hectare price) before I begin work?

How much can my employer charge me for camp costs or motel/accommodation costs?

What should I do if my employer does not pay me properly?

What if my payment and work conditions do not meet employment standards, but I signed a contract that agreed to a different arrangement? For example, what if I agree to work for less than minimum wage?



A Break Down of the Employment Standards Act and How it Relates to Silviculture Workers in BC

Being informed about the Employment Standards Act and Regulations can help workers navigate common workplace issues and concerns.

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