New Legislation = Handbook Update Time
With the last quarter of the year fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about reviewing and updating employee handbooks. This year – with employment standards regulation changes back in May and significant new changes for federally regulated employers as of September 1 – doing so is more important than ever.
Back in June, we wrote about new BC ESA legislation in force as of May 30, 2019 – some details of which should be addressed in the handbooks of provincially legislated organizations. These include new job-protected leaves (i.e. leave for victims of domestic or sexual violence; and, critical illness or injury leave to care for a dependent), as well as the requirement to ensure all employees are informed of their rights under the ESA.
Alberta saw several changes take effect in 2018; and as of September 1, 2019 will see new changes, including eligibility for general holiday pay (returning to how it was handled prior to 2018; i.e. once again, employees will have to work at least 30 days in the 12 months preceding the general holiday in order to be paid). Additionally, so long as provincially regulated employers in Alberta put in place an overtime agreement, overtime can now be banked at a 1:1 rate.
The most significant changes, however, are seen in the federal sector. As of September 1, under Bill C-63 and Bill C-86, there are now several new regulations in the Canada Labour Code. These include:
- Meal Breaks – At least 30 minutes break required for every 5 consecutive hours of work
- Rest Between Shifts – At least 8 hours required between shifts
- Unpaid Breaks – Must be provided for medical reasons and/or nursing
- Scheduling – Employers must provide employees with work schedule at least 4 full days (96 hours) before the start of their first shift in that schedule; and at least 1 full day (24 hours) notice in writing for schedule changes
- Overtime – Employees are entitled to refuse overtime for family responsibilities
- Leaves of Absence – Additional job-protected unpaid leaves added for victims of family violence; court & jury duty; medical; traditional aboriginal practices; personal; and bereavement (personal & bereavement leave includes 3 paid days after 3 months of continuous employment)
- Vacation – 3 weeks (6% vacation pay) after 5 years (previously 6 years) and 4 weeks (8% vacation pay) after 10 consecutive years
- General Holidays – Employers can substitute another day for a general holiday if the affected employee agrees in writing, or by 70% of all employees if it will impact all staff; minimum length of service for holiday pay will be removed
- Flexible Work Hours – Employees have the right to request changes to conditions such as number of hours, work schedule, location, etc. after 6 months of continuous employment
- Employee Rights – Employers must post employee rights under the CLC in the workplace
- Unpaid Internships – May only be for post-secondary students in a recognized program
As a result of the announcements relating to legislative changes in the CLC, there have been some concerns raised, particularly amongst transportation sector employers. As such, an interim exemption for some of the new regulations (e.g. 1-day notice for shift changes and 4-day notice for schedules) has been applied. Further information will be released as it becomes available.
Whether your organization is provincially or federally regulated, there’s new legislation you need to be aware of and/or implementing. Accordingly, particularly given new legislation requiring employers to inform employees of their rights, it’s important to ensure your handbooks are compliant and up to date.