Ontario: Amendments to Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act

New Legislation Enacted

Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018, received Royal Assent on April 3, 2019, and amended the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) and the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA). Amendments to the ESA pertain to the responsibility for preparing and publishing the poster containing information about employee rights and employer obligations under the ESA; the employer’s responsibilities in relation to the poster; employer responsibilities to employees working more than 48 hours in a week; and employer responsibilities in regard to averaging an employee’s hours of work for the purpose of determining the employee’s entitlement to overtime. Amendments to the LRA involve the removal of certain public-sector entities from the construction labor relations model in the statute. The amendments to the ESA are in effect. Some amendments to the LRA came into force on Royal Assent. The balance will come into force on a day to be named.

Amendments to Quebec’s Pay Equity Act

New Legislation Enacted

On April 10, 2019, Bill 10, An Act to amend the Pay Equity Act mainly to improve the pay equity audit process (Act), came into force. The purpose of the Act is to make amendments to the Pay Equity Act to improve the pay equity audit process. Examples of such amendments include, among other things, the requirement of a “participation process” for certain employers who decide to conduct a pay equity audit alone, and amendments to the procedure for dealing with complaints filed following a pay equity audit conducted by an employer alone.

Amendments to British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Code (LRC)

New Legislation Enacted

Significant amendments to British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) pursuant to Bill 8, Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2019, include, among other things, the addition of two new leaves (Domestic or Sexual Violence Leave and Critical illness Leave (both in force on Royal Assent)), and the elimination of an exemption for directors or officers from personal liability for unpaid wages where a corporation was in receivership or subject to insolvency proceedings. Amendments to British Columbia’s Labour Relations Code (LRC) pursuant to Bill 30, Labour Relations Code Amendment Act, 2019 include, among other things, modifying the definition of picketing, providing the Labour Relations Board (Board) with authority to certify a union when there has been an unfair labor practice, and adding consequences upon the failure of parties to file a collective agreement with the Board. All but one Bill 30 amendment came into force on Royal Assent.

Amendments to Prince Edward Island’s Employment Laws Adds a Domestic Violence Leave

New Legislation Enacted

On June 12, 2019, Bill 116, An Act to Amend Employment Standards Act (No. 3), received Royal Assent, which will amend Prince Edward Island’s Employment Standards Act by adding a Domestic Violence Leave, effective November 1, 2019. Employees will be entitled to take up to a three day paid leave of absence and up to an additional seven days without pay to deal with the consequences of domestic violence, intimate partner violence, or sexual violence, provided they have been employed for a continuous period of three months. The leave may be taken intermittently or in one continuous period. Regulation EC2019 – 188 clarifies that the leave may be taken to seek medical attention, assistance from a victim services organization, counselling, legal help or child protection, or to relocate.

Ontario: Risk of Liability for Rehiring Employee with History of Perpetrating Sexual Harassment

Precedential Decision by Judiciary or Regulatory Agency

A recent decision of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Colistro v. Tbaytel, puts employers in Ontario on notice that if they re-hire an employee who has a history of victimizing a current employee by sexual harassment or otherwise, and the current employee finds continued employment intolerable, they risk liability for constructive dismissal. The decision further cautions employers that, absent an offer to accommodate the employee to avoid imposing mental suffering on the employee, they also risk liability for intentional infliction of mental suffering. Finally, this case illustrates that an employee who successfully sues an employer may be required to pay the employer’s costs if there is a substantial disparity in the damages sought by the employee and the damages awarded by the court.

View additional Canadian federal statutory changes and other notable changes in the Canadian federal sphere.