January 1, 2019 marks the coming into force of new amendments to Quebec's Act respecting labour standards (Act).
The Quebec National Assembly adopted Bill 176, An Act to amend the Act respecting labour standards and other legislative provisions mainly to facilitate family-work balance (Bill 176) in June 2018. Bill 176 was assented to the same day, and several changes came into effect on that date. For further information, please see our July 2018 Blakes Bulletin: Quebec's Revised Act respecting labour standards: New Challenges for Employers.
Other changes, which are more fully described below, will come into effect on January 1, 2019.
PAY EQUALITY AND EMPLOYMENT STATUS
An employer will no longer be entitled to remunerate an employee at a lower rate of wage than that granted to its other employees who perform the same tasks in the same establishment solely because of the employee's employment status and because that employee typically works fewer hours each week.
This amendment will also affect the indemnity pertaining to the annual leave of an employee, which is calculated based on the employee's gross wages during the reference year.
REFUSAL TO WORK BEYOND REGULAR WORK HOURS
As of January 1, 2019, employees will have the right to refuse to work more than two hours beyond their regular daily working hours, rather than four hours as currently provided for under the Act. In addition, employees may refuse to work overtime if they have not been informed at least five days in advance that their presence would be required. However, this does not apply if the nature of an employee's duties requires him or her to remain available, or if the employee is a farm worker.
ANNUAL LEAVE OF ABSENCE
Employees will no longer be required to have five years of uninterrupted service to be entitled to three weeks of leave. Going forward, employees with three years of uninterrupted service will be entitled to a minimum of three weeks of paid leave, as opposed to two weeks as currently provided for under the Act.
REMUNERATION FOR ADDITIONAL DAYS OFF
Going forward, an employee may be absent from work owing to sickness, an organ or tissue donation, an accident, and domestic violence or sexual violence of which the employee has been a victim.
The first two days of any such absence will be remunerated in the manner provided for under the Act, for employees with three months of uninterrupted service, who have not already benefited from two remunerated days off to care for a relative or a person for whom the employee acts as a caregiver. It should also be noted that one of the amendments to the Act in June 2018 aimed to broaden the definition of "relative".
Moreover, an employer whose employees receive gratuities or tips must, going forward, take into consideration his employees' gratuities and tips, along with their base salary, for purposes of calculating their two paid days of absence. The same will also apply to collective dismissal indemnities.
DEATH OF A RELATIVE
An employee whose relative dies may be absent from work for five days, including two days without reduction of wages.
ELIMINATION OF MINIMUM PERIOD OF UNINTERRUPTED SERVICE TO BENEFIT FROM PAID DAYS OF ABSENCE
Employees may take two paid days among the five days of absence to which they are entitled on the occasion of the birth or adoption of their child, or when there is a termination of pregnancy in, or after, the 20th week, without having to be credited with 60 days of uninterrupted service with the same employer.
PSYCHOLOGICAL HARASSMENT PREVENTION AND COMPLAINT PROCESSING POLICY
In addition to their obligation of preventing and stopping harassment when such behaviour is brought to their attention, employers are now required to adopt and make available to their employees a psychological harassment prevention and complaint processing policy. This policy is to include a section on behaviour in the form of verbal comments, actions or gestures of a sexual nature.
In June 2018, the legislator amended the limitation periods for filing harassment complaints at work. Under the Act, an employee who wishes to file a harassment complaint must do so within two years of the last incidence of the offending behaviour, as opposed to within 90 days as previously provided for under the Act.
In Mann et Environnement routier NRJ inc., the Administrative Labour Tribunal confirmed that the immediate enforcement of the Act had no retroactive effect and should not revive a right extinguished by the passage of time prior to said enforcement. Therefore, the amendments to the Act will not revive complaints of psychological harassment that had not been filed within the 90-day period provided for under the Act prior to the amendment and where the last incidence of the offending behaviour had occurred within the two years prior to the filing; the action being and remaining statute-barred.
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© 2018 Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP.
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