Changes in payroll laws and regulations from across Canada
Budget implementation bill passes
Parliament has passed legislation to implement some of the measures proposed in this year’s federal budget.
Bill C-74, the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1, received royal assent on June 21.
Among other changes, it amends the Employment Insurance Act to make the EI Working While on Claim Pilot Project rules
permanent and to extend them to EI maternity and sickness benefits. The changes take effect Aug. 12.
Working While on Claim currently allows EI claimants receiving regular, fishing, parental, compassionate care or caregiving benefits to keep 50 cents of their benefits for every dollar they earn, up to a maximum of 90 per cent of their average weekly insurable earnings.
The amendments also include a grandfathering provision for EI claimants who chose to receive benefits from a previous pilot project rather than Working While on Claim, which allows them to earn $75 a week or 40 per cent of their weekly benefit, whichever is higher, without reducing EI benefits. Under the grandfathering provision, they can continue to do this until up to Aug. 2021.
Bill C-74 also includes amendments to the Canada Pension Plan, including provisions to maintain portability between it and the Quebec Pension Plan.
New unpaid leave rules implemented
On June 4, the Manitoba government implemented amendments to its Employment Standards Code that increased the length of parental leave and introduced a new leave for employees caring for a critically ill adult family member.
The amendments were part of Bill 20, the Employment Standards Code Amendment Act (2), which received royal assent on June 4. Employees may now take a maximum of 63 weeks of parental leave, up from 37 weeks. They also now have up to 18 months after their child is born, adopted or comes into their care and custody to begin the leave, instead of 12 months.
Eligible employees may now take up to 17 weeks off work each year, without pay, to provide care or support for an adult family member who is critically ill. To be eligible, employees must have at least 90 days of service with their employer and have a medical certificate verifying that the family member is critically ill and needs the employee’s care or support.
The amendments also expand a 37-week leave for a critically ill child to include employees who are family members of the child. Previously, the leave was restricted to the child’s parents.
The bill also contains amendments that are not yet in force, including those that would allow employers and employees to agree to average employees’ work hours without needing approval from the director of employment standards if the agreement meets certain conditions.
Among the conditions to be met are the following requirements:
• Standard daily work hours could not exceed 12 and standard weekly hours could not be more than 60.
• The employee’s standard hours of work for the averaging period would be determined using the following formula: Standard hours = W x H, where W is the number of weeks in the averaging period and H is 40 or, if the average number of regular hours of work per week during the averaging period is less than 40, the lesser number.
• The agreement would have to be in writing and be made at least one week before being implemented.
• It would have to specify the employee or group of employees taking part and be signed by them and the employer. If made with a group, at least 75 per cent of the employees affected by the agreement would have to sign it.
• The agreement could last for no more than three years and would have to include a start date and an end date.
• The agreement would have to specify the period over which hours would be worked, with the maximum period being 12 weeks.
• The agreement would have to specify the work schedule for daily and weekly hours.
• The employer would have to post the agreement at the workplace where employees affected by it would see it.
• The agreement would not apply to employees who regularly work fewer than 30 hours a week.
The bill would also allow the government to raise the minimum age for employing children from 12 years to 13 years. Individuals under 16 would need to take an online work readiness course before being hired. The certificate would replace a permit that employers must now obtain before hiring young people.
The government has not yet announced a date for implementing the non-leave-related amendments.
Proposed rules provide details on new leave
The provincial government has released draft regulations that provide details about new employment standards provisions covering leave for domestic, intimate partner or sexual violence.
The proposed regulations would allow employees to take up to 10 days and up to 16 weeks off if they or their child are a victim of domestic, intimate partner, or sexual violence.
Employees could take the 10 days intermittently or continuously, but they would have to take the 16-week leave in one continuous period.
Employers would be required to pay employees for the first five days off.
The amount of pay would have to at least equal the amount of wages employees would have earned had they worked regular hours during the leave period.
If employees’ wages vary, employers would have to pay at least their average daily earnings, excluding overtime, for the days worked in the 30 calendar days right before the time off.
To be eligible for the leave, employees would have to be employed with their employer for more than 90 days.
Employees would be permitted to take the leave to: seek medical attention; obtain victim services from a qualified person or organization; obtain psychological or other counseling from a qualified person; temporarily or permanently relocate; seek legal or law enforcement help; and for any other purpose related to or resulting from the violence.
Employers would be required to keep all documentation and other information related to the leave confidential.
They would be prohibited from disclosing the documentation or other information unless the employee gave written consent, the disclosure was authorized or required by law, or the documentation or information was disclosed to an officer, employee, or agent of the employer who needed it to do their job.
The government included provisions for the leave in Bill 44, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act, which received royal assent on March 16.
However, it did not enact the leave then because it needed to write regulations for it. The government has not yet announced when the new leave would come into force.
QPIP premium rates going down
The Quebec government says it plans to lower premium rates for the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) on Jan. 1, 2019.
The employee rate would decrease from 0.548 per cent to 0.526 per cent, while the employer rate would go down from 0.767 per cent to 0.736 per cent.
The government has not yet announced the QPIP maximum insurable earnings for 2019. It is currently $74,000.
Minimum wage rising in October
On Oct. 1, the minimum wage rate in Saskatchewan will rise from $10.96 an hour to $11.06.
The Saskatchewan government adjusts the minimum wage rate each year on Oct. 1, using an indexation formula based on percentage changes to both Saskatchewan’s consumer price index and the average hourly wage for the previous year.