In A Flash

BC Workplace Laws: New Legislation in Effect

New workplace legislation is in force in British Columbia, which will have a significant operational impact on employers across the province.

Earlier this month, we provided updates regarding proposed amendments to both the British Columbia Labour Relations Code and Employment Standards Act, which have now quickly pushed through British Columbia’s legislature and received Royal Assent on May 30, 2019.

Labour Relations Code

The following changes are now in force:

  • Significant restrictions on employer speech during union organizing campaigns;
  • Reduced timeframe for certification votes, down to five business days from date of application;
  • Lowering the bar for “remedial certification” (i.e., without a vote) when an unfair labour practice has been committed;
  • Extending the “statutory freeze” (during which an employer is very restricted from altering terms and conditions of employment) following certification, from four to twelve months;
  • Making it easier for unions to have first collective agreements imposed by arbitration;
  • Imposing union successorship (i.e. the transfer of union certification and existing collective agreement) upon the retendering of contracts in the health, cleaning, security, food services and bus transportation sectors, retroactive to April 30, 2019;
  • Imposing new timelines and decision requirements on the expedited arbitration process under the Code, that significantly erode a party’s right to a fair hearing and a reasoned decision; and
  • Education has been eliminated as an “essential service”.

Employment Standards Act

The following changes are now in force or will come into force on a later date set by regulation:

  • Many ESA provisions now apply to unionized workplaces, and must be met or exceeded in all future collective agreements;
  • The ability of an employer to deduct money from an employee’s wages to pay off debts owed to the employer has been further restricted;
  • Employers are prohibited from withholding, deducting from, or requiring an employee to return any gratuities they receive;
  • Two new job protected unpaid leave periods have been created: Critical illness or injury leave and Leave respecting domestic or sexual violence;
  • Temporary help agencies must now be licensed;
  • Record-keeping obligations lengthened to four years following the date of creation; and
  • Subject to limited exceptions, youth under the age of 14 will be prohibited from working generally, and children under the age of 16 will be prohibited from working in “hazardous industries”, or from performing “hazardous work”.

We will shortly provide our full analysis of these proposed changes, and their likely impact on BC employers.

If you have any questions regarding the impact of any upcoming changes to workplace laws, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.

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