Major modernization of the Act respecting labour standards
QUÉBEC CITY, March 20, 2018 – The Quebec government has introduced Bill 176, An Act to amend the Act respecting labour standards and other legislative provisions mainly to facilitate family-work balance, in the National Assembly. This bill is in keeping with the government’s commitment to change the law so that it better reflects societal changes in the workplace.
Dominique Vien, Minister responsible for Labour, Minister responsible for the Chaudière-Appalaches region and MNA for Bellechasse, made the announcement today. This is the first important proposed change to this law since 2002. In total, about forty managerial and trade-union groups, as well as community-based groups in particular, were consulted on improvements to be brought to the Act respecting labour standards.
The bill proposes amendments to improve the working conditions of Quebec employees, the quality of life of families and the amount of time off for familial, parental or personal obligations.
Je suis très heureuse de vous annoncer que j'ai présenté le projet de loi 176 qui modernise la Loi sur les normes du travail. Ce projet reflète les effets de l’évolution de la société sur les milieux de travail. Les changements proposés visent entre autres à améliorer la qualité de vie des familles en donnant plus de temps aux salariés et aux familles mais aussi à donner plus de souplesse aux entreprises. C’est un projet de loi ambitieux et moderne, qui permet au Québec, de demeurer un leader en Amérique du Nord, en matière de normes du travail.
Posted by Dominique Vien on Tuesday, March 20, 2018
I am proud to introduce this bill, a modern and ambitious social project that will make people’s, families’ and employers’ lives easier. The many changes proposed take into account new realities of the workplace (for example, the changes in family structures, the many retirements and the aging population) and will promote staff retention at a time when we are experiencing labour shortages. The adoption of Bill 176 will once again confirm Quebec’s position as a leader in workplace standards in North America, and especially in improving the quality of life of employees and their families.
– Dominique Vien, Minister responsible for Labour, Minister responsible for the Chaudière-Appalaches region and MNA for Bellechasse
The work-life-school balance is a priority for our government. With today’s bill, we are proposing measures so that families have more time together and have a better quality of life in the new Quebec that we are building. Our government is adapting to families’ new realities and all Quebecers will benefit from it.
– Luc Fortin, Minister of Families and Minister responsible for the Estrie region
The Government of Quebec has been combatting all forms of violence for years, especially domestic violence and sexual assault. The workplace is no exception. Since it has changed a lot, our duty is to guarantee the right of women and men to work in a safe and healthy environment. Not only do some proposed changes to the Act respecting labour standards concretely match measures resulting from last December’s Forum on sexual assault and harassment, but they also clearly reflect our government’s will to give employees a sexual assault- and harassment-free work place.
– Hélène David, Minister responsible for Higher Education and Minister responsible for the Status of Women
I am proud that our government is recognizing the rights of caregivers in a Quebec law. Thanks to the proposed amendments, they will have more flexibility and time to take care of a loved one. It is an important gesture that promotes balance between their work and the support they give to loved ones.
– Francine Charbonneau, Minister responsible for Seniors and Anti-Bullying and Minister responsible for the Laval region
- The bill will give families more time together. The reality of Quebec families has changed significantly. They need to juggle several responsibilities, which often impacts their time spent as a family. As a result, the bill proposes that:
- The number of years of uninterrupted service required to benefit from three weeks of vacation annually decreases from five to three;
- Employees be allowed to refuse to work if not informed five days in advance that they will be asked to work, unless the nature of their job requires them to stay available;
- Two out of ten days taken off for family or parental reasons provided for in the bill be paid, on top of increasing the scope of this time off. Moreover, to harmonize with the duration of some benefits under the Employment Insurance Act, the bill provides for employees’ employment to be protected while they are on leave and receiving these benefits.
- The bill also aims to offer employers greater flexibility. Especially in a context of labour shortage, employers need flexibility in planning work schedules. As such, the bill proposes to:
- Allow employers to grant paid time off to employees when a public holiday doesn’t match with their usual work schedule, instead of paying compensation;
- Make staggering work time more flexible and include compensation pertaining to seasonal workers’ annual time off in their pay.
- The bill will also introduce the notion of a caregiver into the Act, which will let caregivers benefit from some time off and a longer protection period for their employment.
- The bill is aims to improve intergenerational equity as well as equity between employees within the same establishment. Employment status should not be the grounds for an employer giving one employee a lower salary than other employees doing the same tasks in the same establishment. As such, the bill will forbid disparities based on hiring dates relating to retirement plans and other benefits, save those already existing when the bill comes into force.
- The bill’s adoption will reinforce the prevention of sexual harassment at work. Sexual harassment is unacceptable in our workplaces and the bill proposes to reinforce provisions regarding psychological and sexual harassment. Employers will need to develop a prevention and complaint processing policy and make it available to their employees. It will also be clearly stated in the Act that actions of a sexual nature are a form of psychological harassment. Currently, they are considered as such in the Act’s application, but the text does not make this explicit.
- The bill provides that workers hired through personnel placement and foreign worker recruitment agencies will be better protected, in particular through tighter regulation of such agencies. Temporary foreign workers and workers from personnel placement agencies have sometimes been put in a difficult position, such as having their passport seized or experiencing unacceptable working conditions, for example. Measures to regulate personnel placement and foreign worker recruitment agencies are proposed to ensure that working conditions are fair to workers. For example, a permit granted by Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) will now be required in order to operate such agencies.
- Student athletes with a place on a sports team that is conditional on the student pursuing an educational program will be excluded from the application of this law.