Saskatchewan labour law passes third reading

Bill 85 consolidates 12 pieces of labour legislation into one updated act

Saskatchewan’s new labour legislation has passed third and final reading in the Legislative Assembly.

Bill 85 passed on May 13, and it consolidates 12 pieces of labour legislation into one updated act that the province says “protects workers, promotes growth and increases accountability.” The amendments include:

•Creation of three additional leaves (in addition to the two created in the original act for organ donation and to attend a citizenship ceremony) for critically ill child care leave, crime-related child death and disappearance leaves and waiving of the four-week notice requirement as notice may not be possible or appropriate to require.

•Providing part-time employees with overtime for all hours worked in excess of eight hours in a day. This is in recognition that part-time workers do not enjoy the benefits of a modified work arrangement (days off).

•Clarification that employees are entitled to overtime where the daily maximum hours established by their work schedule are exceeded. The two schedules provided for in the legislation include hours in excess of eight hours in a day or 10 hours in a day.

•Addition of the definition of “emergency circumstance” to mean a situation where there is an imminent risk or danger to a person, property or the employer’s business that could not have been foreseen by the employer.

•Requiring employees to provide two weeks written notice of their intention to leave their jobs.

•Clarification of the definition of “employee” to make it clear that employees whose primary duties are confidential in nature and directly impact the bargaining unit cannot belong to a union.

•Amending the definition of “supervisory employee” to clarify that the primary duties are to be supervisory in nature.

•Requiring that good faith negotiations occur prior to ordering a last offer vote.

•Requiring unions to provide an audited financial statement to its members and provide unaudited financial statements for each bargaining unit to the members of the unit; as well as allowing the unions to provide this information in various means including electronically, posted in the workplace, mailed to the employee; personally given to the employee; or provided on a secure website.

The new act also contains provisions that include:

•indexation of the minimum wage

•provisions to protect individuals searching for work from mistreatment and fraud perpetrated by unscrupulous recruitment service providers

•while maintaining the 40 hour work week, two work arrangements will be permitted in the legislation — eight hours per day for five days per week or 10 hours per day for four days per week (consistent with other jurisdictions in Western Canada).

•reduction of the qualification period for maternity, parental and adoption leave from 20 weeks to 13 weeks of service

•recognition that no individual or group may be compensated differently on the grounds of any prohibition identified within the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

The Public Service Essential Services Act is not yet included in the new legislation, the province said. This act was recently upheld by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal.

“Essential services will be added to the new act in the fall, which will provide our government time to seek input and address concerns about the current legislation,” said Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan.

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