The federal government has established an independent Expert Panel to provide advice and conduct consultations on the modernization of labour standards in Part III of the Canada Labour Code (the Code).
In 2017 and 2018, a series of consultations preceded legislative amendments to the Code, including new pay equity rules between employment statuses, new leaves of absence, and enhanced vacation and termination entitlements. During that process, five additional issues were identified. According to the government, the topics reflect the modernization of the Canadian economy, and the inevitable changes to employment as a result. The issues arise from the increase of technology in the workplace, alternative work arrangements, and the gig economy. These have blurred the boundaries of what is traditionally considered an employee and what it means to be at work or working.
The Expert Panel's secretariat has prepared issue papers on each of the following five issues to be studied:
- Federal minimum wage - Should minimum wage be determined by the province in which the employee usually works, or should a freestanding federal minimum wage be enacted?
- Labour standards protections for non-standard workers - Should labour standards that generally apply to traditional employment relationships be extended to non-traditional employment models?
- Right to disconnect - Should there be limits on e-communications outside of working hours?
- Access and portability of benefits - Should benefits -- including medical, retirement savings, vacations, leaves and others -- be enhanced to allow access by individuals in non-traditional work relationships or to improve portability for those who change jobs more frequently?
- Collective voice for non-unionized worker - Are there opportunities to provide non-union employees with a collective voice to express their views and opinions in decisions related to their working conditions?
The Expert Panel is expected to consult and provide its recommendations by June 30, 2019.
We will provide an update on the consultation process as more information becomes available. We strongly encourage federal sector employers to participate given the breadth of the issues under consideration and the potential impact on their businesses.