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Recent changes to Québec's Labour Standards Act

The Act Respecting Labour Standards has recently been the subject of major amendments by Québec’s government. Thus, Bill 176 received assent on June 12, 2018. Some sections came into force immediately on June 12, 2018, while others did so on January 1, 2019.

The following highlights the most significant amendments.

I.       WORK WEEK

a)      The employer and the employee may agree on the staggering of working hours, on a non-weekly basis, without the authorization of the CNESST (i.e. “Labour Standards Board” in Québec) on the following conditions:

-     the agreement must be evidenced in writing and provide for the staggering of working hours over a maximum period of 4 weeks;

-     a work week may not exceed the standard provided for in the law or its regulations by more than 10 hours; and

-     either the employee or the employer may terminate the agreement with notice of at least 2 weeks before the expected end of the staggering period agreed upon;*

b)      The employee has the right to refuse to work more than 2 hours beyond his regular daily working hours;**

c)      The employee has the right to refuse to work if he was not informed at least 5 days in advance that he would be required to work, unless, among a few exceptions, the nature of his duties requires him to remain available. This entails that the employee must be informed of his work schedule at least 5 days in advance.**

  1. II.       FAMILY/PARENTAL LEAVE

a)      The definition of an employee’s relatives now includes his child, father, mother, brother, sister and grandparents and those of his spouse, as well as those persons’ spouses, their children and their children’s spouses. The following people also legally qualify as “relatives of an employee”:

(1)  a person having acted, or is acting, as a foster family for the employee or the employee’s spouse;

(2) a child for whom the employee or the employee’s spouse has acted, or is acting, as a foster family;

(3) a tutor or curator of the employee or the employee’s spouse or a person under the tutorship or curatorship of the employee or the employee’s spouse;

(4) an incapable person having designated the employee or the employee’s spouse as mandatary; and

(5) any other person in respect of whom the employee is entitled to benefits under the law;*

b)      An employee can now take a leave of absence to fulfill family responsibilities in regards to a person for whom he acts as a caregiver, as attested by a professional working in the health and social services sector governed by the Professional Code. If the employee has 3 months of uninterrupted service, then he is entitled to be paid for the first 2 days of the 10 days of absence annually taken under this reason. These 2 paid days must respect the calculation for the holiday indemnity. Also, the employer is not required to pay remuneration for more than 2 days of absence during the same year, when the employee is absent from work to fulfill family responsibilities AND/OR due to sickness, an organ or tissue donation, an accident, domestic violence, sexual violence, or a criminal offense [please refer to section III.a) relative to absences due to sickness below];**

c)      It is no longer necessary for an employee to have 60 days of uninterrupted service to benefit from 2 paid and 3 unpaid days for the birth of his child, the adoption of a child or following the termination of pregnancy in or after the 20th week. All employees are entitled to this;**

d)      An employee can now take 2 paid and 3 unpaid days off work by reason of the death of his spouse, his child or the child of his spouse, or of his father, mother, brother or sister. All employees are entitled to this;**

e)      An employee can now be absent for a period of up to 16 weeks over 12 months when his presence is required alongside a relative or a person to whom the employee acts as a caregiver because of a serious illness or a serious accident (36 weeks if the person is a minor child);*

f)       An employee can now be absent for a period of up to 27 weeks over 12 months when his presence is required alongside a relative, other than his minor child, or a person to whom the employee acts as a caregiver because of a serious and potentially mortal illness, attested by a medical certificate.*

 

  1. III.       SICK DAYS

a)    If the employee has 3 months of uninterrupted service, then he is entitled to be paid for the first 2 days of the permitted period of 26 weeks of absence annually taken due to sickness, an organ or tissue donation, an accident, domestic violence, sexual violence, or a criminal offense. These 2 paid days must respect the calculation for the holiday indemnity. Also, the employer is not required to pay remuneration for more than 2 days of absence during the same year, when the employee is absent from work to fulfill family responsibilities, AND/OR due to sickness, an organ or tissue donation, an accident, domestic violence, sexual violence, or a criminal offense [please refer to section II.b) relative to absences to fulfill family responsibilities above];**

b)    An employee can now be absent for a period of up to 26 weeks over 12 months if the employee has been a victim of domestic or sexual violence. All employees are entitled to this;*

c)    It is no longer necessary for an employee to cumulate 3 months of uninterrupted service to be entitled to take a leave of absence due to sickness, an organ or tissue donation, an accident, domestic violence, sexual violence or a criminal offence. All employees are entitled to this;*

 

  1. IV.      ANNUAL LEAVE

a)      An employee who cumulates 3 years of uninterrupted service has the right to an annual leave of 3 consecutive weeks;**

b)      The indemnity for annual leave may now be paid either in a lump sum before the beginning of the leave or in the manner applicable for the regular payment of the employee’s wages.*

 

  1. V.      DIFFERENTIAL TREATMENT

a)      Employers are forbidden to remunerate, at different wage rates, employees who perform the same tasks at the same establishment, solely because of the employee’s employment status, and in particular because the employee usually works fewer hours each week;**

b)      Any distinction made solely on the basis of a hiring date, in relation to pension plans or other employee benefits, that affects employees performing the same tasks in the same establishment is also forbidden. This rule does not apply in regards to a distinction made solely on the basis of a hiring date, in relation to pension plans or other employee benefits, that existed on the 11th of June 2018.*

 

  1. VI.      PSYCHOLOGICAL HARASSMENT

a)      Sexual harassment is now explicitly mentioned in the definition of psychological harassment. The deadline to file a psychological harassment complaint has been increased from 90 days to 2 years;*

b)      Employers must adopt and make available to their employees a psychological harassment prevention and complaint processing policy that includes, in particular, a section on behaviour that manifests itself in the form of verbal comments, actions or gestures of a sexual nature.**

 

  1. VII.       SALARY PAY

It is no longer necessary to have a written agreement or a decree to convene that wages will be paid by bank transfer.*

 

  1. VIII.       PERSONNEL PLACEMENT AGENCIES AND TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKERS***

a)      Personnel placement and temporary foreign workers recruitment agencies must now hold a license delivered by the CNESST;

b)      It is forbidden for employers to require that a temporary foreign worker entrusts them with personal documents or goods;

c)      It is forbidden for personnel placement agencies to remunerate an employee at a lower rate of wage than that granted to the employees of the client’s enterprise who perform the same tasks in the same establishment solely because of the employee’s employment status;

d)      Agencies and client’s enterprises are solidary debtors liable for pecuniary obligations to the benefit of the employee.

_____________________________________

*   Came into force on the 12th of June 2018

** Came into force on the 1st of January 2019

*** Has not yet come into force

 This document is for informational purposes only. It constitutes general information relating to areas of law familiar to our firm lawyers. It does NOT constitute legal advice or other professional advice and you may not rely on the contents of this document as such. If you require legal advice from Le Corre Lawyers, please contact one of our lawyers.

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