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Hiring Remote Workers in Canada: A Guide for US Employers

US employers have more choices than ever when finding the right talent to meet their business needs.  One emerging trend is to hire remote workers in other countries, if the right skill set can’t be found inside the US, or for business expansion.  One obvious choice is to recruit workers in Canada.

Why Hire a Canadian Remote Worker?

If this is your first time recruiting outside of the US, you might ask why you would want to hire a Canadian remote worker, and what are the benefits over other countries? 

A few of the advantages of Canada are purely practical, such as sharing English as a primary language, proximity to the US for ease of travel, similar time zones and a developed educational and professional environment. 

You may actually find it easier to fill a specialized position with a Canadian remote worker, instead of trying to recruit a similar in-house employee in just one city or region in the US.  Or, you may want to hire a Canadian worker to help expand your brand into Canada through sales, marketing or customer support.  Either way, by hiring a Canadian worker you open up your business to the resources and market of another developed country just north of the US border.

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Do Canadian Workers Need to Have a US Work Visa?

The simple answer is that as long as the Canadian remote worker is physically performing the work in Canada, no US work visa is required.

However, if at some point your Canadian employee needs to visit the US for work purposes, they will need some type of visa to enter and stay in the US.  This will depend mostly on the amount of time they will spend and the type of activity.

Business Visa

  • Duration: 90 Days or Less
  • Attending meetings, trainings, site tours, conferences
  • Meeting with customers

Work Visa

  • Duration: up to three years
  • Filling in for a US employee on leave
  • Giving training or consulting

You will have to keep in mind that if your worker uses business visas frequently, then immigration may inquire about the nature of their work activity and role in the US.

How to Legally Employ and Pay a Remote Worker in Canada

Even though your remote worker doesn’t need a US work visa, there are still a few legal and administrative hoops to jump through in Canada.  First, you can’t just put a Canadian remote worker on the US payroll, so you have to find a way to pay them in Canada.  So, what are your options?

  • Third Party

You have a few ways to do this that don’t involve actually setting up a Canadian corporate office just for employment purposes.  For example, you might be able to find an existing Canadian company to help you by putting your employee on their payroll, but this is probably not the best long term solution.

  • Independent Contractor

The remote worker could also be hired as an independent contractor, which means they would have to be willing to handle all of the tax, withholding and registration as a self-employed.  This can work well, but many Canadians want to be hired as employees along with the benefits and other labor protections that they are used to.

  • Global Employment Organization (GEO)

You could use a GEO employer of record in Canada to legally employ the remote worker.  In this way, you can have your remote employee on a legal Canadian payroll, without the need to set up your own entity in the country.  The GEO is already in place, and can have your new employee onboard in a matter of weeks.

Canadian Employment and Labor Standards Can Differ from Those in the US

If you are still thinking that you want to try to hire your Canadian employee using a DIY approach, there are a few things to consider.

Hiring a Canadian remote employee will mean that your company will have to follow the employment and labor rules in Canada, which are different than in the US.  This is going to require some thorough research into Canadian employment law to avoid any compliance problems.

  • Employment Standards Vary Between Provinces

This is complicated by the fact that just like in the US, employment laws are handled at the state/provincial level and each province is different.  For example, in Quebec there are entirely separate social security contribution rates and rules for termination.

  • Wage Rates Depend on Province/Location

Likewise, even minimum wages and compensation will depend on the province where the remote worker lives, as there is no national minimum wage.

  • Human Resources

Some of the HR and employment rules are governed by Canadian federal law, including health and safety, hiring practices, termination and holiday or vacation leave.  One key difference from the US is that there is no “at will” employment in Canada, so any termination would have to be for just cause and with proper notice periods.

The Shield GEO Solution

At this point, you might be wondering how to manage all of this for one or more remote workers in Canada.  We offer you a simple and cost-effective service to employ your remote Canadian workers legally and quickly to support your expansion.

You don’t have to go to the trouble of setting up a Canadian entity or relying on another company to run payroll.  The Shield GEO employer of record in Canada is ready to do it for you, meeting every part of Canadian and provincial employment laws, and making sure that your new employee is taken care of locally.

 Need more information about employing in a new country? Learn more about:

Looking to Hire an Employee in Canada? Get in touch.

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