Changes to BC Employment and Labour Legislation Now in Force

On May 30, 2019, the Provincial Government was able to hold a vote and pass into law the changes to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Code on the last day of the sitting of the Legislature until October.

Accordingly, the following changes to the legislation which we consider of note are now in effect. We have also listed additional changes we consider of note which will be brought into force at a later date. Please contact us if you would like a full list of the changes now in effect.

Employment Standards Act

The following changes to the ESA are now in force as of May 30, 2019:

  1. Collective agreement provisions will need to meet or exceed the ESA requirements to replace the ESA provisions (before just had to have a provision in CBA, on assumption that Union would ensure was at least as good).
  2. Withholding from wages will be limited to advances, purchase of goods and use or property (no longer good enough that hold back is to meet ‘credit obligation’).
  3. Records will need to be kept for four years instead of two.
  4. Tips must go to employees (i.e. no longer able to charge blanket service charge and keep some for capital improvement or management/owner – unless manager/owner does same work as employees). Sharing amongst employees still allowed.
  5. Averaging agreement – no change, unfortunately, so employers still need to set out a schedule in advance which makes of limited use.
  6. New critical illness or injury leave:
    • Applicable where “baseline statue of health has changed, and life of family member is at risk, care can be met by family member and family member requires care or support”;
    • Up to 36 weeks for a child, up to 16 weeks for an adult; and
    • Unpaid leave to be taken in units of one or more weeks (which means it can be split up which may be challenging for employers to accommodate).
  7. New leave respecting domestic violence:
    • Unpaid leave to seek medical or social services, or to relocate or seek legal assistance; and
    • Up to 10 days (in units of one or more days) and up to 15 weeks, in both cases the amount is for each year.
  8. 12 months to bring complaint (increase from prior 6-month time limit), with discretion of director to allow filing up to 24 months after alleged violation.
  9. Expanded definition of “officer” for liability for compliance.
  10. Change to successorship to refer to sale of “all or part of a business”, and remove reference to sale of “substantially all of the assets of the business” (meaning that successorship should not apply to only asset sales, but will need other aspects of business to be included in sale to trigger successorship obligations)

The following changes to the ESA will be brought into force at a later date:

  1. Temp agencies will need to be licensed (in case any of your businesses use them for staffing).
  2. Employees under 16 (instead of 15) will need the approval of a guardian for light work and director for regular work and under 14 needs director’s permission.
  3. Investigation of complaint process will result in a report to be considered in making a determination.
  4. Director may waive payment of penalty (which is new as penalties are presently mandatory).

Labour Relations Code

All of the changes to the Labour Relations Code are now in force as of May 30, 2019.  See our prior blog post for a discussion of the important changes.

Please feel free to contact our Labour + Employment Practice Group if you have any questions about the changes to the BC Employment and Labour Legislation.

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