Legislative Roundup

Changes in payroll laws and regulations from across Canada


New rules for hiring young people apply

On Nov. 26, Manitoba raised the minimum age of employment from 12 years to 13 and implemented a mandatory work readiness course for children under 16.

The work readiness course teaches young employees about their rights and responsibilities in an employment relationship.

It replaces a requirement for employers to obtain permits to hire workers under 16.

With the change, 13- to 15-year-olds who want to work must complete the course, obtain a certificate of completion, including their parents’ signed consent to work, and present it to their employer.

Employees working under existing permits can continue to do so and only need to take the course if they change employers.

Workers under 16 continue to be prohibited from working in certain jobs, including construction and manufacturing. Work in food preparation is not allowed for those under 14 if the work involves using dangerous tools or machines.

In addition, employees under 16 cannot work more than 20 hours during a school week and are prohibited from working between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. When working, they must be directly supervised by an adult who is in or at the same workplace.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Family violence leave added to act

As of Jan. 1, amendments allowing eligible employees to take up to 10 days off work each year for family violence leave are expected to come into effect.

The leave was included in Bill 32, An Act to Amend the Labour Standards Act, which the provincial legislature passed in November.

It allows employees with at least 30 days of employment with their employer to take three paid days and seven unpaid days off work if they or a person for whom they are a parent or a caregiver has been subjected to, a victim of, impacted by, or seriously affected by family violence, or has witnessed it.

Employees must take the leave for specific purposes, including receiving medical care, counseling or other health services, receiving services from a victim’s services organization, relocating, or receiving legal assistance.

To calculate an employee’s pay for the three paid days off, employers must multiply the employee’s hourly rate by the average number of hours he or she worked in the three weeks immediately before the leave.

When the leave concludes, employers must reinstate employees with at least the same terms and conditions of employment. Employers are prohibited from dismissing or giving a notice of dismissal to an employee because the employee plans to take or has taken a leave.

Another amendment requires employers to keep all information relating to any leaves allowed under the Labour Standards Act confidential.

Exceptions apply where an employee gives consent for the information to be disclosed, the disclosure is required by law, or the employer needs to disclose the information to administer the leave.


Government implements employment standards changes

On Jan. 1, the Ontario government implemented employment standards amendments affecting leaves of absence, public holiday pay, minimum wage, scheduling, and equal pay for equal work.

The amendments were part of Bill 47, the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018, which received royal assent on Nov. 21.

The legislation eliminated personal emergency leave (PEL), including two days of paid leave. It replaced it with three days of sick leave, three days of family responsibility leave, and two days of bereavement leave.

All of the leaves are unpaid and employees are entitled to them once they have at least two consecutive weeks of employment with their employer.

New public holiday pay provisions require employers to calculate public holiday pay as the total amount of regular wages earned and vacation pay payable to an employee in the four workweeks before the workweek in which a public holiday falls, divided by 20.

This is the formula that employers have been using since last July and that they used prior to Jan. 1, 2018.

The legislation freezes the general minimum wage rate at $14 an hour until Oct. 1, 2020, when it will go back to being indexed to inflation. Other minimum wage rates, such as the student rate and the liquor server rate, also remain at their current levels.

New scheduling rules require employers to pay employees for three hours of work if they regularly work more than three hours a day and are required to report for work, but work fewer than three hours.

The legislation eliminated previously passed amendments that, if implemented, would have given employees the right to request changes to their work schedule or work location and would have allowed them to refuse to work if their employer did not give them at least 96 hours’ notice of their schedule.

It also eliminated requirements for employers to pay part-time, casual, and temporary employees the same rate that they pay full-time employees doing the same work in the same workplace, under similar conditions, where the work requires the same skill, effort, and responsibility.

Pay transparency rules delayed

Ontario has indefinitely delayed implementing new pay transparency rules that were scheduled to come into force on Jan. 1.

The Pay Transparency Act, 2018, which the previous Liberal government spearheaded, would require employers subject to the legislation to track, report, and publish information about compensation paid to their staff. It would also prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their past compensation and from penalizing workers who ask about their pay.

The recently elected Progressive Conservative government tabled amendments in November that specified that the act would not take effect until the government proclaimed it into force. The government has not indicated when or if it will implement the act.

Prince Edward Island

New rules for ESA leaves passes

The P.E.I. legislature has passed legislation that will expand a number of leaves allowed under employment standards law.

Bill 32, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act (No. 4), will increase the length of parental leave from 35 weeks to 62. It will also increase the length of adoption leave from 52 weeks to 62, and the length of compassionate care leave from eight weeks to 28.

In addition, the amendments will extend the period in which employees may begin maternity leave from 11 weeks immediately before the estimated date of birth to 13 weeks beforehand. The total amount of maternity/parental/adoption leave that one or two employees may take for the same child will increase from 52 weeks to 78.

Changes will also decrease the eligibility period for sick leave from six months to three.


Province proposes to expand unpaid leaves

Saskatchewan is looking to expand job-protected leaves for new parents, caregivers, and assault survivors.

Bill 153, The Saskatchewan Employment (Leaves) Amendment Act, 2018, which the government introduced on Nov. 21, would increase the length of maternity and adoption leaves from 18 weeks to 19.

It would also extend parental leave from 34 weeks to 59 for employees who also took maternity or adoption leave and from 37 weeks to 63 for other parents.

The bill would create a new 17-week leave for employees who need time off to provide care or support for a critically ill adult family member. It would also broaden leave for a critically ill child to include family members beyond the child’s parents.

Another change would extend leave for interpersonal violence to include survivors of all forms of sexual violence. 

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