Over the last few years, the federal government has made a number of changes to employment laws that are aimed at enhancing the rights of employees at federally-regulated workplaces. These include laws governing everything from workplace harassment to pay equity to accessibility.
So, if you are a federal employer (e.g., bank, airline, shipping, interprovincial trucking), there are numerous new requirements that you should be addressing now or preparing for in the future.
Workplace Harassment & Violence
As of January 1, 2021, federal employers must meet the requirements of the new workplace harassment and violence regime, including:
- conducting a joint assessment (with the health and safety committee or representative) of the workplace to identify any harassment and/or violence risk factors;
- developing and implementing preventive measures within 6 months of the assessment;
- developing a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy and making the policy available to employees;
- investigating and resolving complaints of harassment or violence.
See my earlier post for further details.
The federal government added new pay transparency obligations to the Employment Equity Act and regulations. Beginning January 1, 2021, employers with 100+ employees must record new salary data and include aggregated wage gap information in their annual reporting on employment equity. The new salary reporting obligations were due on June 1, 2022.
The federal Pay Equity Act came into force on August 31, 2021. This means that, subject to extensions approved by the Pay Equity Commissioner, employers with 10+ employees in 2020 must post a final version of their pay equity plan by August 31, 2024.
The new pay equity framework includes the following:
- Employers with 100+ employees and employers with 10-99 unionized employees must establish a pay equity committee to implement pay equity in the workplace.
- Pay equity implementation includes: conducting job class comparisons, determining the wage adjustments and maintaining/updating the pay equity plan.
- Special requirements apply if the workplace does not have any predominantly male job classes for comparison.
- Throughout the pay equity process, the committee/employer must provide notices to employees and, as required, seek employee feedback.
- Employers must submit an annual report to the Pay Equity Commissioner.
- Non-compliant employers (and their directors and officers) may be subject to penalties.
The Accessible Canada Act (ACA) requires organizations to identify and remove barriers to persons with disabilities, including with respect to: the built environment, employment, information and communications, procurement, program delivery and transportation. While the government has not yet published any of these accessibility standards, it set out a tentative timeline in draft regulations published earlier this year.
Employers will be required to prepare and publish initial accessibility plans by:
- December 31, 2022, if they are a public sector organization;
- June 1, 2023, if they are a private sector organization with 100+ employees;
- June 1, 2024, if they are a private sector organization with 10-99 employees.
And progress reports must be published by the first and second anniversaries of the day that the accessibility plan is published.
Canada Labour Code
Bill C-30 included the following amendments to the Canada Labour Code (the Code):
- establishing a federal minimum wage of $15 per hour;
- increasing the length of certain leaves of absence, including:
- child death and disappearance leave from 52 to 104 weeks;
- COVID-19 related caregiver leave from 38 to 42 weeks;
- medical leave from 17 to 27 weeks.
Bill C-220 also amended the bereavement leave provisions in the Code:
- increasing the leave from 5 to 10 days;
- expanding those who qualify as “family member”.