Legislative Roundup

Changes in payroll laws and regulations from across Canada


Omnibus budget bill passes

Canada has passed legislation that, once in force, will make widespread changes to federal labour standards, implement a new employment insurance (EI) parental sharing benefit, and introduce proactive pay equity legislation, among other measures.

The changes were included in Bill C-86, the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2, which received royal assent on Dec. 13.

Among the changes are measures that will give federally regulated employees three weeks of vacation, paid at six per cent of their wages, after five years of employment instead of six years. Employees with at least 10 years of employment will be entitled to a minimum of four weeks’ vacation, paid at eight per cent of their wages.

Another change will eliminate a requirement that employees be employed for at least 30 days before becoming entitled to paid statutory holidays.

Other amendments will give employees a 30-minute unpaid break during every five consecutive hours of work and a minimum eight-hour rest period between shifts.

New leave provisions will allow employees to take up to five days off each year for personal leave, with the first three days paid for those with at least three months of service.

The amendments will also require employers to pay employees with at least three months of service for the first five days of family violence leave they take each year. Amendments passed in 2017, but not yet enacted, will provide for a 10-day family violence leave.

The amount of notice for an individual termination will change from two weeks after three months of employment to a graduated system based on length of service. The maximum notice will be eight weeks after eight consecutive years of work.

In addition, employers will have to give terminated employees a written statement identifying their wages, vacation benefits, severance pay, and other benefits and pay arising from their employment as of the statement date.

The bill will also implement a new EI Parental Sharing Benefit that will provide extra weeks of EI benefits when parents agree to share parental leave.

It will also create new pay equity rules for federally regulated workplaces, requiring those with at least 10 employees to establish and maintain a pay equity plan within three years of becoming subject to the legislation.

Specific in-force dates for the amendments are not yet clear.


Youth employment rules updated

On Jan. 1, the Alberta government implemented new rules for hiring young people that restrict the type of work that children under 13 years old may do.

As a result, children 12 years and younger may only work in artistic endeavours, such as film, stage, and television productions, if their parent/guardian consents to it and employment standards issues a permit for the work.

Restrictions on work hours and any other terms of employment will be determined during the permit approval process.

The new requirements do not apply to volunteering, farm and ranch work, or casual work, such as babysitting or lawn mowing.

Employment rules for youth ages 13 years and older remain unchanged, the Ministry of Labour said.

New Brunswick

Three-day wait for workers’ compensation benefits eliminated

The New Brunswick legislature has passed legislation that will gradually eliminate a three-day unpaid waiting period that injured workers must serve before receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

Bill 2, An Act Respecting Addressing Recommendations in the Report of the Task Force on WorkSafeNB, which received royal assent on Dec. 12, will phase in the elimination between July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2021.

The province’s workers’ compensation law prohibits injured employees (with some exceptions) from receiving any employment-related remuneration or workers’ compensation benefits for three working days after an injury in order to qualify for WorkSafeNB benefits.

With the new legislation, the waiting period will be reduced to two working days from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020. From July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, it will be one working day.

On July 1, 2021, the wait period will be eliminated.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Family violence leave rules in effect

New labour standards rules that provide up to 10 days off work for family violence leave came into effect on Jan. 1.

Under the new requirements, employers must pay employees for three of the days.

To be eligible for the leave, employees must have at least 30 days of service with their employer and they or a person for whom they are a parent or a caregiver must be directly or indirectly subjected to, a victim of, impacted by, or seriously affected by family violence or have witnessed it.

Employees can only use the leave for certain purposes, including to seek medical attention, obtain services from a victim’s services organization, obtain counselling, move, or obtain legal services or assistance.

To calculate employees’ pay for the three paid days, employers must multiply the employees’ hourly rate by the average number of hours they worked in the three weeks before the leave.

Other changes require employers to keep all information related to any labour standards leaves confidential, unless the employee gives consent for the information to be disclosed, the disclosure is required by law, or the employer or a person they employ needs to disclose the information to administer the leave.

Nova Scotia

New employee leave rules in place

On Jan. 1, the Nova Scotia government implemented new rules affecting employee leaves of absence under the province’s Labour Standards Code.

Employees with at least three months of service are now allowed to take time off work if they or their child under 18 is a victim of domestic violence.

Employees can only use the leave for certain purposes, such as to seek medical attention, obtain services from a victim services organization, obtain psychological or other professional counselling, relocate, or seek legal or law enforcement help.

The leave consists of up to 10 days and up to 16 weeks each calendar year. The employee may take the 10-day leave intermittently or continuously, but must take the 16 weeks off in one continuous period.

Employers are required to pay employees for up to three days of leave each year. Employees can choose which of the days they want as paid days by notifying their employer in writing. If they fail to do this, the employer must treat the first three days off as paid days.

The government also implemented new rules that eliminate the eligibility period employees must serve before taking pregnancy and parental leaves.

Other changes require employers to keep all matters related to leaves confidential. Employers are prohibited from disclosing information unless they have the employee’s written consent to do so, or unless they must disclose information to employees or agents who need it to perform their job duties, or the disclosure is required by law.

Prince Edward Island

New employment standards rules now apply

The P.E.I. government recently implemented new rules that expand a number of leaves allowed under employment law.

Beginning Dec. 29, the length of parental leave increased from 35 weeks to 62 weeks, and the length of adoption leave rose from 52 weeks to 62 weeks. The total amount of maternity/parental/adoption leave that one or two employees may take for the same child increased from 52 weeks to 78 weeks.

The length of compassionate care leave has also gone up, rising from eight weeks to 28 weeks. The government has also reduced the eligibility period for sick leave from six months to three months.

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