Section 54 of the BC Labour Relations Code requires an employer to give at least 60 days notice in advance a change affecting the terms, working conditions or security of a significant number of employees to whom a collective agreement applies. The Labour Relations Board recently confirmed that the notice requirement under Section 54 is mandatory, and that a union and employer cannot agree to collective agreement terms providing less than the statutory requirement.
In this case, the collective agreement contained a specific formula for payment of a separation allowance in the event of a plant closure. Relying on these terms, the employer gave 14 days notice of closure following its purchase of the business. The union complained to the Board, seeking compensation for its members for the full 60 days notice required by Section 54.
The Board found that the parties could not contract out of the requirements of Section 54 of the Code. While the preceding Industrial Relations Act permitted the parties to a collective agreement to agree to different terms of notice, the Code no longer permits this. As a result, the Board ordered the employer to pay each member who received insufficient notice a further 46 days of wages and benefits.