Provinces across Canada are amending their employment laws to enhance sick leave entitlement, with Québec the latest jurisdiction to jump on the bandwagon. In Québec, employees can currently take up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave a year for a number of reasons, including sickness, organ donation, domestic violence or a criminal offence. Under the proposed legislation, employees will be entitled to two paid sick days after three months of uninterrupted service with an employer. In addition, the government is eliminating disparity clauses in pension and benefits plans by adding the provision that “[a]ny distinction made solely on the basis of hiring date, in relation to pension plans or other employee benefits, that affects employees performing the same tasks in the same establishment are also prohibited.” In one of his recent “Have your say” columns in Benefits Canada, Ryan Murphy discusses the impact these changes will have on employers and seeks input from Julien Ranger, a partner in the Pensions & Benefits and Employment and Labour Groups in Osler’s Montréal office.

Referring to the fact that the disparity clause amendment will not be retroactive, Julien says, “I believe there was some pretty intense lobbying efforts to get that concept off the table.

“I think employers are going to be happy because those who really wanted to close their plans have done it, so they will be happy,” he continues. “And those who haven’t closed it have made a commitment, but we don’t know how things are going to be in five or 10 years from now, and they might not mind at this particular time.”