This is the second part of an article detailing the changes to Canada's Labour Code affecting federally regulated businesses buried inside the 2018 Federal budget.
The following are more of the changes detailed under Bill C-86 that was introduced in December, 2018:
Medical breaks - Unpaid breaks for breastfeeding, pumping breast milk or for medical reasons (an employee must provide evidence to support requests for unpaid breaks for medical reasons and an employer may request a written medical certificate setting out the length and frequency of such breaks).
Breaks - Unpaid breaks of 30 minutes for every 5 hours of work (such breaks must be paid if the employer requires the employee to be at their disposal during the 30 minute period and the breaks are subject to postponement or cancellation in the case of an emergency).
Eight-hour rest periods - Minimum 8 hour rest period between work periods or shifts (the rest period is subject to postponement or cancellation in the case of an emergency)
Right to request flex work - After six consecutive months of employment, employees will have the right to request a change to hours, work schedule, location and other terms and conditions that may be specified in new regulations or legislation later. An employer may refuse such a request only on certain grounds. The last item is an “open cheque” as future specifications are not outlined or defined in any generalized terms.
Leave for Aboriginal practices - Aboriginal employees who have completed at least three consecutive months of continuous employment may take up to five days of unpaid leave each calendar year to participate in traditional Aboriginal practices.
Family violence leave. Employees will be entitled to a new leave of up to 10 days each calendar year if an employee or their child is a victim of family violence. For employees with at least three consecutive months of continuous employment the first five days are paid.
If you are one of the employees affected by this legislation, all of these extra benefits will come to you and your employer(s) will likely have to pass the extra costs onto their customers. For the affected employers, they also have to react to these drastic changes that will hit them hard on their bottom line which may result in the reduction of their work force in order to sustain their businesses. They will also be facing scheduling and staffing issues that they have never tackled before.
Many of the Federally regulated businesses are already unionized. In those cases, the new changes will legitimize their demands on the next agreement if they have not already included them on their current union contracts as yet.
Enhancements to labour and employment laws are good things for the employees but they must be done in small doses and at a easily digestible pace for the employers and consumers. Rapid and drastic changes will hurt the employers and may result in reduction of work forces (lay-offs) and /or closure of the business.
The federal Liberal government hopes that by implementing these changes starting on September 1, the benefiting employees may vote for them in the upcoming election on October 21. More promises are coming in 2020 - new harassment and violence obligations will come into force for federally regulated employers. The Trudeau government has also appointed an Independent Expert Panel to conduct consultations on further “modernization” of the labour standards. All these measures will cost the employers even more unless the Majority Liberal Government is defeated on October 21.
If you are one of the affected employers that have to deal with these additional costs and management issues and facing with more of the same coming next year, how would you vote?
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