Client Update: Changes to the Canada Labour Code

Federally regulated employers should be aware of changes to the Canada Labour Code (“the Code“) effective April 1, 2014, namely subsections 219 and 223-231 of the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012, chapter 31 of the Statutes of Canada (also referred to as Bill C-45). The changes are briefly reviewed as follows.

New Complaint, Payment Orders, and Vacation Pay Time Lines

As of April 1, 2014 there will be time limits for making complaints of unpaid wages or other allegations of violations under Part III of the Code:

  • Time limits for these complaints will be limited to six months from the day the employer was required to pay wages or other amounts. Any other complaints must be made within six months from the day the subject matter of the complaint arose.
  • Payment orders will cover wages, or other amounts, owing for a period of 12 months starting on the day the complaint was made or the 12 months before the date of termination.

Vacation pay will extend to 24 months from the date of termination or the date of the complaint, whichever is longer.

Administrative Review Mechanism

The April 1, 2014 changes implement an administrative review process for inspector’s payment orders or notice of unfounded complaints:

  • An employee who is notified that his or her unjust dismissal has been rejected can, within 15 days after the day notified, request in writing, with reasons, that the Minister review the inspector’s decision. The Minister may confirm, rescind or direct an inspector to deal with the complaint.
  • A person affected by a payment order or notice of unfounded complaint may, within 15 days after the day on which the order, copy of the order, or notice is served, send a written request with reasons for a review of the decision by the Minister. The Minister may confirm, rescind or vary the payment order or notice of unfounded complaint and, if rescinded, the Minister will direct an inspector to re-examine the complaint.
  • In the case of an employer or a director of a corporation, a review is not permitted unless the amount of the payment order, subject to in the case of a director, the maximum amount of the director’s liability is paid to the Minister.

What this means for federally regulated employers

The new changes will limit what is recoverable to an employee to a defined period of time. These changes are intended to streamline the process. The new time limitations should simplify responding to a complaint, by limiting it to a defined period for the first time. Also it eliminates the possibility for an order which goes back several years to when the employee was first hired. Overall the changes should bring greater efficiency to the process and serve to limit employer risk when facing a complaint.

The foregoing is intended for general information only. If you have any questions, or for a detailed list and background of our Labour & Employment practice group, please visit www.stewartmckelvey.com.

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