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Rewriting employment standards: Gearing up for policy revisions

employment standardsOn Wednesday May 24, 2017, Alberta introduced Bill 17, Fair and Family Friendly Workplace Act, which is its first major overhaul of employment standards in that province since 1996. The proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Code include unpaid leaves for employees (including domestic violence leave), reduced qualification periods for leaves, increased overtime banking rates and amended vacation entitlements, to name a few.

Similarly, Ontario has announced its own employment standards amendments, likely to be passed in the fall, based on the recommendations of the Changing Workplaces Review report which was released on or about May 23, 2017. Included in the proposed amendments are scheduling regulations, expanded vacation and leave entitlements, equal pay for casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers, inclusion of dependent contractors under the Act, and increased penalties for non-compliance, to name a few.

British Columbia may be next. The BC New Democratic Party included changes to employment standards legislation, notably increased minimum wage and enforcement in its 2017 election platform, and now, teamed up with the Green Party is poised to form the government.

Saskatchewan was the first of the provinces to overhaul its employment legislation when it created the Saskatchewan Employment Act in 2013. Prior to the SEA, Saskatchewan’s Labour Standards Act originated in 1978.

Other provinces may feel the pressure to following suit: Manitoba’s Employment Standards Code was passed in 1998; Quebec’s An Act Respecting Labour Standards in 1979; New Brunswick’s Employment Standards Act in 1982; many provisions of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Labour Standards Act date from 1977; Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Code in 1989; and Prince Edward Island’s Employment Standards Act in 1988. All provinces and territories have, of course, continuously amended and added to their employment legislation and regulations since the original legislation was enacted, but it may very well be time for all jurisdictions to review their employment legislation in light of the mandate given to the Ontario Changing Workplaces Review:

…to determine what changes, if any, should be made to the legislation in light of the changing nature of the workforce, the workplace, and the economy itself, particularly in light of relevant trends and factors operating on our society, including, globalization, trade liberalization, technological change, the growth of the service sector, and changes in the prevalence and characteristics of standard employment relationships.

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Human Resources PolicyPro®

Provincial legislation overhauls such as those in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and now Ontario, will require employers to review and revise their human resources policies to ensure that the policies reflect the legislative changes. Once legislation is passed Human Resources PolicyPro® will be reviewing all published topics and sample policies to ensure that amendments to legal requirements are reflected.

Stay tuned for a busy year.

Michele Glassford

President and Managing Editor at DRH and Lawyer at MacKinnon Law Associates
Michele Glassford, is a lawyer, researcher and policy analyst with a background in employment and labour law.In addition to a part-time law practice in Stoney Creek, Ontario, Michele has worked in the field of labour adjustment for the Health Sector Training and Adjustment Program and has been a Researcher for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Michele also holds the position of President and Managing Editor at D.R. Hancocks & Associates Inc., author of the Human Resources PolicyPros. Read more
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