Recent, important amendments to the Canada Labour Code (the "Code") brought about by Bill C-44 have been overshadowed by the dramatic changes to provincial labour and employment laws earlier this year. While big changes, including significant increases in minimum wages in several provinces, have garnered most of the attention, for federally regulated employers the changes to the Code are important. The Code amendments will impact the way in which certain complaints brought against such employers are launched and adjudicated.
Currently, unjust dismissal complaints of non-union employees are referred to individual adjudicators. This happens if complaints are not settled by the parties with the assistance of a federal inspector. With the amendments to the Code, the powers, duties and functions of adjudicators will be transferred to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (the "Board"). In short, the Board will soon have responsibility for hearing unjust dismissal complaints.
Additionally, Bill C-44 introduces a complaint mechanism relating to reprisals for an employee who believes that they have been dismissed, suspended, laid off, demoted, disciplined or otherwise penalized for:
- exercising or seeking to exercise rights under Part III of the Code, which governs standard hours of work, wages, vacations and holidays;
- making a complaint under Part III, including an unjust dismissal complaint;
- providing information to the Minister or an inspector who is exercising their powers, duties and functions under Part III; or
- testifying or planning to testify in a proceeding under Part III.
Such a complaint can be filed within 90 days after the date of the reprisal. Those reprisal complaints will also be heard by the Board.
These recent changes will soon place more cases before the Board. It is not clear when the Board will begin hearing these cases or what, if any, impact there will be on timelines for processing such complaints.
We will continue to track these and other developments applicable to federally regulated employers, keeping you apprised of new processes and procedures.