The Government of Canada recently amendedthe Canada Labour Code as part of itsomnibus budget implementation bill, Bill C-45. The bill, titled the Jobs and Growth Act 2012, was firstintroduced in October, and received Royal Assent on December 14, 2012. The resultingamendments to the Code focus on threeareas: vacation pay, holiday pay and the complaint process.
Prior to the amendments, there were nodeadlines for an employer to provide employees with unpaid vacation pay aftertheir employment ended. Now, an employer must provide an employee with unpaidvacation pay within 30 days from the date on which the employee is no longeremployed.
Holiday pay under the Code has been changed in a number ofrespects by Bill C-45. The Code nowincludes the term “holiday with pay”, which modifies the calculation of holidaypay. For employees who receive regular wages, this new calculation provides forthe payment of one-twentieth of the wages earned over the four weeks precedingthe week in which the holiday falls, excluding overtime. For commission-basedemployees, the calculation is one-sixtieth of the wages earned, not includingovertime, over the 12 weeks preceding the week in which the holiday falls.Employees are not entitled to receive holiday pay in the first 30 days of theiremployment.
The complaint process under the Code has been amended in a number ofways concerning time limits. Complaints related to unpaid wages and otheramounts must be brought within six months. Orders for the payment of wages orother monies are limited to the 12-month period preceding the date thecomplaint was made, the employee was terminated, or an investigation wascommenced. An exception to this rule provides that an order for vacation pay islimited to the 24-month period preceding the complaint, termination, orinvestigation.
The complaint process amendments alsoaffect the powers of inspectors investigating complaints. Inspectors now havethe power to assist parties in settling complaints, to suspend investigatingthe complaint if the inspector feels the parties should attempt other measures,and to reject a complaint based on a reason listed in the Code. Finally, the amendments set the time frame for applying for areview of a complaint at 15 days, with the review being heard by a refereeappointed by the minister.
These amendments will come into force ona future date, to be fixed by an order of the Governor in Council. We will besure to alert our clients when the changes come into effect.
If you have any questions concerning theinformation presented in this article, please contact Kirsten Hume,Partner.