The Minister of Labour, Dominique Vien, on March 20, 2018, tabled in the National Assembly her reform of the Labour Standards Act, applying to both unionized and non-unionized workers.
The last significant changes to Bill 76, adopted in 1979, date back to 2002. Some forty employer and union groups, as well as community groups, were consulted as part of this reform.
Among the most significant changes are measures taken to promote work-family balance. Indeed, the plan is to pay 2 of the 10 days of leave for family or parental reasons provided in the bill, in addition to broadening the scope of these absences.
More vacations earlier
In addition, employees will have the right to three weeks of vacations annually, paid after three years of continuous service. Previously, this third week was granted after five years of service.
The employee will also have more flexibility about his schedule, meaning that he will be able to refuse to work if he has not been informed at least five days in advance that he is asked to work, unless the nature of his duties requires that he remain available.
For the first time in a bill the notion of “caregiver” is recognized. Instead of 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year, the reform proposes 16 weeks of leave per year and 36 weeks if the person needing care is a minor child. In addition to parents and caregivers, bereaved persons and victims of spousal abuse will benefit from more leave.
Bill 76 of the Couillard government explicitly recognizes that sexual harassment at work is part of psychological harassment. It mentions that employers should have a policy for prevention and handling of complaints and make it available to their employees.
“The many changes proposed take into account new workplace realities, such as the change in family patterns and the many people retiring (…) and would encourage staff retention in a context of workforce scarcity,” Minister Vien said.
The reform by the Labour Minister will result in an additional cost of between $690 M and $690 M, borne by Quebec businesses, which represents 1% of the province’s payroll.