On June 12, 2018 Quebec’s Labour Standards Act was updated by the coming into force of an initial phase of the provisions of Bill 176, entitled An act to amend the act respecting labour standards and other legislative provisions mainly to facilitate family-work balance, as reported by our colleagues Marianne Plamondon and André Sasseville in their articles published on March 21 and June 26, 2018:
- Amendments to the Labour Standards Act: Overview of the Draft Bill
- Adoption and Coming into Force of the Act to Amend the Act Respecting Labour Standards
The second phase of this update was implemented on January 1, 2019 with the coming into force of some important provisions, particularly regarding the right to refuse to work, annual vacations, leave for family or health reasons, and psychological harassment. Thus, as of January 1, 2019:
- an employee may refuse to work (i) more than two hours after regular daily working hours, (ii) more than 14 hours per 24-hour period, and (iii) if the employee is not informed at least five days in advance that he/she would be required to work, unless the nature of the employee’s duties requires him/her to remain available (s. 59.0.1);
- an employee credited with three years of uninterrupted service with the same employer at the end of a reference year ending after January 1, 2019 is entitled to a minimum of three consecutive weeks of vacation, to be taken within 12 months following the end of the reference year, even if part of the reference year was in 2018 (s. 69);
- an employee no longer needs to be credited with at least three months of uninterrupted service with the same employer in order to be entitled to leave due to sickness, organ or tissue donation, an accident, domestic violence, sexual violence or a criminal offence, and certain long-term absences for family or parental reasons, i.e. the periods of absence provided for in sections 79.1 and 79.8 to 79.12 (ss. 79.2 para. 1 and 79.16 para. 1);
- an employee credited with at least three years of uninterrupted service with the same employer will however be entitled to two days of paid leave during the same year for the first two days (i) of absence due to sickness, organ or tissue donation, an accident, domestic violence, sexual violence or a criminal offence, or (ii) for family or parental reasons, but the employer is not bound to remunerate the employee for more than two days’ absence during the same year where he/she is absent from work for any of these reasons (ss. 79.1, 79.7 and 79.16 para. 2);
- an employee is still entitled to five days’ leave to mourn the death of a close relative, two of which (no longer just one) are with pay (s. 80);
- an employee no longer needs to be credited with 60 days of uninterrupted service to be remunerated for two of the five days’ of leave to which he/she is entitled upon the birth or adoption of a child, or where pregnancy is terminated as of the 20th week (s. 81.1 para. 1);
- employers are now obligated to adopt and make available to their employees a psychological harassment prevention and complaint policy (s. 81.19 para. 2).
The coming into force of this reform of labour standards is not yet complete, as the provisions on the contentious issues surrounding placement and recruitment agencies will only take effect upon the adoption of a regulation in that regard by the government. The same is true of the provisions regarding temporary foreign workers.