On May 24, 2022, the National Assembly of Québec held its final vote on Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec, which was first introduced on May 13, 2021. Bill 96 will make several amendments to the Charter of the French Language (the Charter) and other laws such as the Civil Code of Québec and the Consumer Protection Act. This reform is the most significant since the adoption of the Charter in 1977.

On May 14 and 26, 2021, we had published two bulletins outlining the significant impacts of the first version of Bill 96, including on the workplace (see Linguistics 101: Our take on language reform in Québec’s Bill 96 and Bill 96: What about the workplace?). Although the changes to the employment provisions are not significant, the Government of Québec adopted some amendments to Bill 96 following the committee stage.

This bulletin discusses the most important changes to the employment provisions of the Charter, so that employers can be aware of the main obligations that may affect the workplace. In addition to the changes discussed below, please note that employers with 25 to 49 employees in Québec will be subject to the same francization rules as those with 50 to 99 employees. Theses businesses will have to generalize the use of French across all levels of their enterprise. This requirement will come into force within three (3) years of the assent of Bill 96 and will affect the employer-employee dynamic. Its importance is significantly enhanced due to the new consequences imposed in the event of breaches. Please stay tuned for a future article on the francization process.

Although the National Assembly of Québec has adopted Bill 96, please note that the amendments to the Charter outlined below will come into force on the date of assent of Bill 96, which remains unknown at the time of publication.

Review of job postings and job descriptions

As for the review of language requirements in job postings and job descriptions, this constitutes the most significant impact of Bill 96 on the employment provisions of the Charter. In fact, before imposing the knowledge of another language than French as a job requirement in a job posting or description, employers must have taken all reasonable means to avoid imposing such a requirement.

Those reasonable means include assessing the actual language needs associated with the duties performed, the language knowledge already required from other employees and the number of positions involving duties whose performance requires knowledge or a specific knowledge of another language. Please note that although the Charter provides that those reasonable means should not impose an unreasonable reorganization of an employer’s business, some reorganization is still expected.

Please also note that the requirement of the knowledge of another language than French as part of hiring or job retention is not the same as hiring or retaining employees who otherwise speak such other language without formally requiring it. Therefore, for example, employers could still hire or retain employees who speak English without having to take the reasonable means explained above.