What You Should Know about the New Federal and Provincial Labour Standards

Posted on June 12, 2018 by Shelley Brown

Within the last year there have been significant initiatives involving federal and provincial employment standards legislation. As a reminder, in July 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada finally resolved the controversy over termination without cause under the Canada Labour Code.

The trucking industry must take note of these changes as they provide protections against discipline or termination in retribution against employees who exercise these rights. Failure to implement these changes will inevitably result in legal and monetary consequences.

Here’s what you should know:

Federal Level

In 2017 the government passed Bill C-44 which amended the Employment Insurance (EI) scheme to allow parents of newborns to elect payment of their EI benefits over the course of an 18-month parental leave of absence. In Budget 2018, the government also announced the impending introduction of a “lose it or leave it” approach to parental leave for the second parent of a child. This is likely to have significant impact on the trucking and logistics industry as more employees may take additional leave.

Also, in Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., the Supreme Court definitively held that after 12 months of employment an employee can only be terminated for cause. Employees who believe they have been fired without cause can file a complaint under the Canada Labour Code within 90 days to review the dismissal.

Provincial Level

Several new provincial initiatives, in particular, directly affect scheduling and staffing in the trucking industry:

Ontario: Last year the province passed Bill 148 which, in addition to increasing the minimum wage, introduced important changes in three areas: equal pay for equal work, on-call entitlements and leaves of absence.

The new rules state that compensation must reflect the work being done and not the status of the employee. In other words, subject to certain exceptions, part-time workers, seasonal workers or casual workers must be paid at the same level as full-time workers for the same work. On-call workers who are not called to work under certain conditions are entitled to a minimum of three hours of pay.

Bill 148 also introduced enhancements to Maternity/Paternity leave, Family Medical Leave, Personal Emergency Leave and Crime-Related Death of a Child. In addition, an employer can request, but not insist upon, a doctor’s note.

Alberta: Bill 17, which came into effect on Jan. 1, reduces the eligibility time for unpaid leaves from one year to three months and extends Compassionate Care Leave from eight weeks to 27. It also introduced new leaves of absence, such as: Personal and Family Responsibility (five days); Long Term Illness (16 weeks); Bereavement (three days); Domestic Violence (10 days); and Child’s Critical Illness (36 weeks).

British Columbia: On April 9, British Columbia tabled legislation that would allow for 18 months of maternity leave, in harmony with federal provisions. It also introduced the following leaves of absence: Compassionate Care Leave for terminally ill family members (27 weeks); Death of a Child (104 weeks); and Child Missing as a Result of Crime (52 weeks).

Finding and retaining good employees is a constant challenge, but HR managers also have the task of making sure their companies adhere to the standards for managing the people you employ. Breaking the rules can have financial and legal consequences but also hurt your reputation as a good, fair employer. Be sure to watch this space for further updates.

Disclaimer: This post is informational and does not constitute legal advice. A lawyer should always be consulted.
By Shelley Brian Brown B.C.L., LL.B., LL.M. Employment Lawyer, Steinberg, Title, Hope and Israel LLP