The construction industry is one of the most important areas of economic activity in Quebec. There are a multitude of companies that operate in this area, employing countless numbers of workers.
The Commission de la construction du Québec (the “Commission”) is the body responsible for applying the Act respecting Labour Relations, Vocational Training and Workforce Management in the Construction Industry1 (the “Act”) as well as the 25 or so regulations thereunder.
The Act and its regulations contain several procedural mechanisms that, if not respected, can result in considerable financial penalties for employers. In order to avoid unpleasant surprises, employers must become familiar with the mechanisms to be followed for employee hirings, layoffs and departures, and for ensuring employee mobility in the construction industry.
The Commission administers a labour referral service to provide qualified employees as candidates to meet employers’ labour needs2. But employers are not required to use this service and may directly hire construction workers for their projects3. In either case, however, the regulatory hiring criteria must be respected.
In this regard, section 107.11 of the Act provides that “an employer must notify the Commission of the hiring, temporary layoff or departure of an employee …”.
More specifically, the Regulation respecting the hiring and mobility of employees in the construction industry provides that:
- the Commission must be so notified during its regular working hours4;
- the notice must be given at the time of the event or the following day at the latest. However, this notice period does not include Saturdays, Sundays, statutory holidays or obligatory annual vacations during the decreed winter period5;
- the notice may be given using the online service provided by the Commission;
- if it is more convenient or if the online service is not accessible, the notice may be given by telephone, directly to a Commission representative;
- the employer must obtain a reference number from the Commission upon giving the notice, and enter it in its payroll register6.
If an employer fails to respect this procedural mechanism, it will be deemed to have committed an offence and will be liable to a fine ranging from $1,026 to $2,053, subject to indexation7.
Thus, employers subject to the Act are strongly advised to become familiar with the hiring criteria in order to avoid receiving a notice of offence and having to pay a fine. As the old adage goes, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”!