Understanding Your Pay Stub

Every time your employer pays you, they must also provide you with a pay stub detailing the period of work the payment is for, any deductions that have been withheld from your salary, and other important information including your job title and the length of time you’ve been engaged by your employer.

For some, this document can be challenging to understand, but it is the employee’s responsibility to confirm that they are receiving the correct salary from their employer. Below is a breakdown of the information that an employee’s pay stub must contain.

What information needs to be on your pay stub?

  • The name of your employer
  • The first and last name of the employee
  • The employee’s job title
  • The date when payment for the indicated period will be made
  • The time period that corresponds to the payment being made
  • The number of working hours paid at the agreed-upon (contractual) rate
  • The number of overtime hours paid
  • The number of overtime hours worked that will be compensated with additional vacation hours (with the applicable rate shown)
  • The nature and amount of any bonuses, indemnities, allocations, commissions or taxable benefits
  • The hourly rate of the employee’s salary
  • The employee’s gross salary
  • The net salary paid to the employee
  • The amount of tips that the employee has declared, or that the employer has attributed to the employee
  • The nature and amount of deductions from the employee’s pay

What deductions are made from salaries paid in Quebec?

Certain mandatory deductions are made from the gross salary paid to employees in Quebec.

By law, the employer must deduct the following from employee pay:

  • Québec provincial income tax
  • Québec health care premiums, which are calculated based on the employee’s income
  • Québec parental insurance (RQAP) premiums
  • Federal Employment Insurance premiums
  • Québec pension plan (RRQ) premiums

In some cases, additional deductions may be made from an employee’s pay. These can include deductions for:

  • An employer-administered pension plan
  • Union dues
  • Group health benefit plan premiums
  • Other deductions, such as parking

What do the acronyms on your Québec pay stub mean?

To demystify the information found on your pay stubs, you must first understand the many acronyms they contain. In general, these acronyms refer to the types of deductions made to an employee’s gross salary. Below are explanations of the most common acronyms found on pay stubs in Québec.

RRQ This is the Régime des rentes du Québec, the provincial pension plan that is part of Québec’s public insurance plan. This is a mandatory deduction for every worker over 18 years of age who makes more than $3500 annually. Workers’ contributions to the RRQ fund the basic financial assistance that is provided to people who have worked in Québec at the time of their retirement. RRQ assistance is also paid out to people who have suffered the death of their spouse, or who have become unable to work.

The amount deducted from your pay for RRQ premiums is based on your salary. For example, people who made between $3500 and $55,300 in 2017 will pay an RRQ premium of 10.8 percent of their taxable salary, half of which must be paid by their employer. Self-employed workers must pay the entire premium themselves.

CNESST – Deductions paid to the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail fund a salary insurance program that is intended to protect workers against loss of income should they suffer a work-related injury. Employers of salaried employees pay the entirety of these premiums, but self-employed workers must pay for their own premiums. The amount they pay depends on the level of risk associated with their profession.

As of January 1 2017, employers must pay 0.7 percent of the total wages paid to their employees during the year in CNESST premiums. However, this figure can vary depending on what industry the employer is in, and the level of risk involved with their work.

RQAP The Régime québécois d’assurance parentale provides payments to new parents to allow them to take maternity and paternity leave, including for those who adopt children. Deductions for RQAP premiums are 0.548 percent of an employee’s gross pay, up to a maximum of $397.30 (2017). As well, the maximum amount of salary considered to determine RQAP deductions was $72,500 in 2017; this maximum taxable amount is adjusted every year on January 1.

E.I. Employment Insurance premiums are used to fund the federal Employment Insurance program, which provides payments to any eligible Canadian worker if they lose their job through no fault of their own. The amount and duration of E.I. payments depend on a number of factors, including how long the recipient had been employed, what industry they work in, and what region they live in.

All workers who engage in an insurable job, as well as their employers, must pay into the Employment Insurance fund. The amount that employees must pay is based on the insurable salary received by the employee; in 2017, the rate was 1.27 percent of gross salary and the maximum insurable salary is $51,300. Employers must pay E.I. premiums of up to 1.4 times the amount paid by employees, but this amount can be adjusted lower if the employer offers employees a benefit policy that includes short-term disability insurance.

REER – A Régime enregistré d’épargne retraite collectif allows employees and employers to contribute to a retirement fund through regular salary deductions. Contributions to REER programs are tax-deductible, allowing those who make contributions to enjoy a lower taxable income.

If an employee agrees to contribute to a REER with their employer, the amount they contribute will be indicated on each pay stub. The government of Québec limits the amount of contributions an employee can make to 18 percent of their gross annual income, up to a maximum of $26,230 in 2018.

RPA A Régime de pension agréé is a program offered by an employer or union that provides pension payments to retired employees. The acronym may be different depending on the program an employee is participating in. Employees can request that their RPA contributions be considered as tax-deductible at tax time.

RPDB – A Régime de participation différée aux bénéfices allows employers to engage in profit-sharing agreements with their employees. These agreements can be among the various benefits offered to employees by employers.

To participate, the employee does not need to make direct contributions, and the income deferred as a result of participation is not taxable. However, since the payments to this plan depend entirely on the profits realized by the employer business, the amounts paid into an RPDB may differ from year to year.

Group insurance benefits – This is an insurance plan offered to employees by their employer, which allows members to enjoy lower costs for prescription drugs and health services such as paramedical services, dental care, and/or vision care. The employer is allowed to determine the eligibility conditions for employees who want to participate, but these criteria cannot include the age of the person, their sex or the state of their health. Employees can also choose not to participate in group benefits if they can prove that they are already covered by another private insurance plan for their medications.

The employer deducts group insurance benefits premiums from the gross pay of participating employees, and must show the amount of the deduction on employees’ pay stubs.

What to do if you see errors on your pay stub

Mistakes happen – but what should you do if you find a mistake on your pay stub?


The majority of errors found on pay stubs involve miscalculations of the number of hours worked by the employee. In particular, if your employment contract states that you are being paid a salary in return for a specified number of hours of work per week or month, you should keep close track of the hours that you work. If you ever need to dispute the information on your paystub for this reason, your notes will come in handy.

You can keep track of your hours in an agenda, or you can use the “My Pay” app offered by the Commission des normes du travail (https://www.services.cnt.gouv.qc.ca/mapaye/login). This application allows you to track your hours with one or more employers, to generate reports of time periods worked and overtime hours, to find out about statutory holidays and other useful information.

Be honest

If you or your employer notices an overpayment on your pay stubs, remember that the employer is entitled to demand a repayment of the overpayment amount. In such a case, it’s important to be honest and to arrange repayment in a way that will not imperil your personal situation, especially if you have already spent the excessive payments.

Note that for unionized work environments, the collective agreement may require that a deduction made from an employee’s wages as the result of an overpayment error only be done after receiving authorization from the union.

Communicate with your employer

In most cases, such errors can be resolved in an amicable way between the employer and the employee. Often, these types of mistakes are simply the result of an employer’s misunderstanding of how to make deductions. If you do see an error on your paystub, the first thing to do is to contact your employer and ask them all of the questions you think are necessary in order to figure out exactly what is happening.

Filing a complaint with the Commission des normes du travail du Québec (CNESST)

It’s possible to file a complaint with the Commission up to one year after an alleged offense has occurred. If the Commission decides your complaint is valid, it will begin an investigation into the claims of both parties.

If the Commission decides it is appropriate, it will order the employer to make a payment to the employee within 10 days of the decision. If payment isn’t made within the prescribed time frame, the Commission will issue a formal notice to the employer and can then pursue legal action if the matter isn’t resolved by the employer promptly.

Whether you’re an employee or a self-employed worker, the CNESST provides essential information to inform you of your rights as a worker. Consult their website or contact them directly to learn more.

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