We took a short break last week from our four-part series on the legislative changes that could affect you or your business, and we are returning with Part III which addresses the Canada Labour Code. If you are interested in changes to the BC Employment Standards Act, you can catch-up on the changes in Part I. Part II will provide you the updates on the BC Labour Relations Code. Stay tuned for our final post which will outline the changes to the BC Human Rights Code.
Part III – The Return of the Canada Labour Code
The Canada Labour Code (the “CLC”), which governs federally regulated workplaces, received a significant makeover on September 1, 2019. The changes cover a broad range of topics. We have highlighted some of the most significant ones below.
Flexible Working Arrangements
An employee who has been employed for at least six consecutive months may request a change to certain conditions of their work, including their hours or work location. Employers who receive a request can choose whether or not to grant it, or suggest an alternative arrangement to the employee. However, requests can only be denied on certain grounds, such as if the request would result in additional costs to the employer or if there would be insufficient work available for the employee if the change was granted. Employers must respond to an employee’s request within thirty days.
Paid Time-Off In Lieu of Overtime Pay
Employees and employers can enter into a written agreement which allows the employee to take 1.5 hours of paid time off for each hour of overtime worked. Paid time-off must be taken within three months of the pay period in which the overtime was worked, otherwise the employee is paid out for the time.
Right to Refuse Overtime
Employees are now permitted to refuse overtime work to attend to the health or care of a family members, or to the education of a family member under the age of eighteen.
Notice of Shift Change
The CLC now requires that employees be provided with written notice at least 24 hours prior to any change to a scheduled work shift. Notice is not required if the change is needed to deal with an unforeseeable emergency.
Notice of Shift Schedule
Employers must now provide 96 hours’ advance written notice of an employees’ work schedule. Employees are entitled to refuse any shift that begins less than 96 hours after they receive notice of the schedule, with certain exceptions.
Leave for Victims of Family Violence
This new leave allows an employee, who has been the victim of family violence or is the parent of a child who has been the victim of family violence, to take up to ten days of leave each year. An employee who has completed three consecutive months of continuous employment is entitled to paid leave for the first five days of this leave.
Leave for Traditional Aboriginal Practices
This new leave allows an employee, who is Aboriginal and has completed three consecutive months of continuous employment, to take an unpaid leave of absence of up to five days per year for the purpose of engaging in traditional Aboriginal practices. Traditional Aboriginal practices include, but are not limited to, hunting, fishing and harvesting. For the purposes of this leave, “Aboriginal” refers to a person who is “Indian, Inuit or Métis”.
But wait, there’s more!
The Federal government has also announced new Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations (the “Regulations”), in support of Bill C-65, which itself bears the catchy title “An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1” (the “Act”). Despite having received Royal Assent on October 25, 2018, Bill C-65 is not yet in force. The Federal government has stated its intention to officially implement the Act in late 2019 or early 2020.
While the new Regulations are not yet in force, prudent employers that fall under the jurisdiction of the CLC should be aware of the incoming changes that will eventually require them to:
- Develop, in tandem with an “applicable partner” (this typically will be a health and safety committee), a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy (the “Policy”).
- The Policy must contain:
i. a description of how complaints will be processed and resolved;
ii. an outline of the training employees will receive concerning workplace harassment and violence;
iii. a description of how the employer will protect the privacy of individuals who make or are named in a complaint; and
iv. the name of the individual who complaints should be made to.
- Conduct a workplace assessment and identify potential risk factors relating to harassment and violence (i.e. workplace culture and working conditions). Then, within six months of conducting the assessment, develop and implement preventative measures to minimize any risks that have been identified.
- Develop and implement emergency procedures to be used if an incidents presents an immediate danger or risk to the health and safety of employees.
- Provide harassment and violence training to their workforce every three years.