Legislative roundup: Changes in payroll laws and regulations from across Canada

P.E.I. ESA amendments • Yukon WCHSB assessment rates to be lower in 2011 • Wage loss replacement plans not subject to CPP • New CRA tool for gifts and awards

Wage loss replacement plans not subject to CPP

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has recently announced wage loss replacement plan payments are not considered remuneration for pensionable employment under the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). CPP contributions are not required for any benefit payments made from wage loss replacement plans. Aside from this announcement, the CRA has not provided details with respect to the effective date of this change or the extent of this change that is based on a tax court case.

New tool for gifts, awards

The CRA has recently created a new question and answer tool that will serve to assist employers in determining whether or not a gift, award or long-service award is a taxable benefit to the employee. The employer will be asked a series of questions that will enable them to determine whether or not their particular benefits would be considered taxable or not based on the employers responses to the questions within the tool located at the CRA’s website.

Automated GST/HST messages

A national pilot project has begun that involves sending pre-recorded phone messages to remind new goods and services tax and harmonized sales tax registrants and new employers of their first filing and remitting deadlines.

YUKON

Average WCHSB assessment rates to be lower in 2011

The Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board (WCHSB) has announced the average assessment rate for 2011 will be “significantly lower” than this year’s rate.

In a news release, the board stated the rate will decrease from $2.95 per $100 of assessable payroll to $2.49. The board cautions, however, this will not be an across the board drop. Employers in industries that have not improved their safety or return-to-work record likely will not see any decrease to their rates. The board is expected to announce the maximum assessable earnings later this year.

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Employment Standards Act amendments

Amendments to Prince Edward Island’s Employment Standards Act that were passed late last year come into effect on Oct. 1, 2010. The amendments in Bill 2, the Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2009, affect a number of standards in the act.

Leaves

•Employees will be entitled to a maternity or parental leave if they have worked for their employer for a minimum of 20 weeks in the 52 weeks immediately before the leave.

Employees will be allowed to extend their leave for up to five consecutive weeks if their child has a physical, psychological or emotional condition that requires extra time off.

The employee will have to request the additional leave in writing at least one week before the current leave is set to end and, if the employer requests it, provide a medical certificate verifying the need for the additional time off.

•Employees on maternity, parental or compassionate care leave will be allowed to continue taking part in the employer’s benefit plan such as extended health, dental, life insurance or accidental death.

Employers will have to inform employees in writing of the option to continue participation at least 10 days before the last day the employee may make the decision. Employees who opt to maintain benefits will have to pay the costs to remain in the plan, including the employer’s portion.

•Employees with at least five years of continuous service with their employer will be entitled to one day of paid sick leave per calendar year, in addition to the unpaid leave currently allowed under the act.

•The definition of “immediate family” will be replaced with a new term "family member" for compassionate care.

It will be used to refer to members of the employee's immediate family and extended family (which will now also include an aunt or an uncle), as well as a niece, nephew, foster parent, ward or guardian of the employee, a person whom the employee considers to be like a family member and any other person listed in regulations under the act.

•Employees will be entitled to one day of paid bereavement leave if a member of their immediate family dies, in addition to two days of unpaid leave. Employees will be entitled to up to three consecutive days of unpaid leave if a member of their extended family dies. If the one day of paid bereavement leave falls during the employee's vacation, the employer will be required to extend the employee's vacation by one working day.

•Employees will be allowed to take time off work without pay for court leave if they are summoned to serve on a jury, selected to serve on a jury or served with a summons to attend court.

For more amendments, see the August issue of Canadian Payroll Reporter.

Source: Canadian Payroll Manual, a publication of Carswell, a Thomson Reuters business.

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