As part of the federal government’s initiative to modernize the Canada Labour Code, RSC 1985, c L-2 (the “Code”) and associated regulations, a series of anticipated amendments have come into force in recent months, with further amendments on the horizon. These changes may have significant impacts for federally-regulated employers. The Labour and Employment lawyers at McDougall Gauley summarize the highlights of these updates.
What changes are already in force?
Minimum age of employment
On June 12, 2023, amendments to the Code came into effect that increased the minimum age of employment from 17 to 18 years. Employers might be permitted to hire employees under 18 years of age if the employee is not required to be in school, in addition to other limited circumstances. Any employee under the age of 18 cannot be required to work between 11 PM to 6 AM.
Reimbursement of work-related expenses
Employers are now required under the Code to reimburse their employees for reasonable work-related expenses. The Canada Labour Standards Regulations, CRC, c 986 provides a list of factors to help determine whether an expense claim is work-related or reasonable. Reimbursements must be made within 30 days of an employee’s submission of a claim.
Employers are now also required to provide employees with written employment statements within the first 30 days of employment and within 30 days after any change is made to the last statement. Employment statements must be provided to existing employees within 90 days of July 9, 2023 (up to October 7, 2023). Employment statements must include a number of details about the employment, including descriptions of the position, duration of any probationary period, frequency of paydays, hours of work and mandatory deductions from pay, among other details. Employers must retain copies of employment statements for 36 months after an employee’s employment ends.
Providing prescribed information to employees
Going forward, employers will be required to provide employees with materials that the Minister of Labour makes available regarding rights and obligations under Part III of the Code (labour standards). A copy of the materials must be provided to existing employees and posted in readily accessible places within 90 days of the later of July 9, 2023 and the day on which the materials become available. For new employees, a copy of the materials must be provided within the first 30 days of employment.
The amendments respecting reimbursements, employment statements and providing prescribed information came into force on July 9, 2023. Employers may be liable for administrative fines for failing to comply with the legislative and regulatory amendments.
What changes are coming soon?
Access to menstrual products
Effective December 15, 2023, employers will be required to provide menstrual products in washrooms as part of their occupational health and safety obligations. Occupational health and safety obligations under the Code currently require employers to provide sanitation supplies, such as soap, toilet paper and a means to dry hands after hand-washing.
Increased notice for terminations without cause
On February 1, 2024, amendments to the Code will come into effect that increase an employee’s entitlement to notice following a termination without cause. Currently, the Code requires employers to provide two weeks’ notice when terminating the employment of an employee with at least three months’ service. Once the amendments come into effect, employers will be required to provide employees with a graduated notice of termination based on the length of an employee’s continuous employment, as follows:
- Two weeks after three months of service;
- Three weeks after three years of service; and
- One additional week after every additional year of service, up to a maximum of eight weeks.
In addition to the increase in notice entitlements, employers will also be required to provide terminated employees with a written statement of benefits, outlining the employee’s rights to vacation benefits, wages, severance pay and any other benefits and pay arising from their employment.
The amendments respecting notice for terminations without cause may have limited application to federally-regulated workplaces due to unjust dismissal provisions in the Code. Contact the lawyers at McDougall Gauley if you have questions about the termination of employees in a federally-regulated workplace.
Replacement workers ban
On September 4, 2023, the federal Minister of Labour issued a statement affirming that the federal government plans to introduce legislation this fall to prohibit the use of replacement workers in federally-regulated sectors during strikes and lockouts. There has been no indication as to what date it will be introduced. The replacement workers ban is part of the Supply and Confidence Agreement reached between the federal Liberal and NDP political parties in 2022. It seems that public consultations and disruptions resulting from federal sector strikes this year have not shifted the government’s previous plan to move ahead with the ban.
For federally-regulated employers, it will likely be prudent to review your workplace policies and to identify whether any changes are required in order to comply with the legislative amendments. The expected ban on replacement workers may impact bargaining strategies and business continuity planning for unionized employers as well. The Labour and Employment lawyers at McDougall Gauley are trusted advisors who can assist you with ensuring that your workplace continues to operate smoothly.
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