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Here’s what the new employment and labour laws mean for your business

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The provincial government tabled new policies that will change BC’s Employment Standards and Labour Code, but things could have been a lot worse for employers. We made several submission stressing the need for a fair balance between employee and employers when it comes to employment rules. 

The good news: thanks to strong support of your needs as a business owner, the new employment changes do not include new rules for hours of work, termination, and paid sick time policies. Additionally, the ‘secret ballot’ method of starting a union was kept – meaning a secret vote is required to start a union. Other provinces use a “card check” system which allows union supporters to actively sign up potential members. Keeping the secret ballot method was good news for BC’s labour code. 

However, there are changes relevant to your business:

  • Two new unpaid leaves for employees facing critical care and domestic violence
  • Extended wage recovery time from 6 to 12 months, with the ability to go to 24 months in extreme cases
  • Employers could face increased penalties when found responsible for withholding owed wages. However, the Employment Board can now waive penalties
  • The legal working age for children has been increased from 12 to 16, and restricts the kind of hazardous work 16 to 18-year-olds can be asked to perform
  • An employer can no longer withhold tips (for industries that use a business model with tipping) from employees, or take any portion of the tips for themselves unless they have performed the same duties that would warrant tipping

For more information on the above and other the changes to the Employment Standards Act, check out our Business Resources post

Keeping an eye out for further changes: there may be more employment standards and labour code changes to come. BC’s Minister of Labour, Harry Bains, is considering more changes, likely involving hours worked and sick time pay. We are keeping a close eye on any further movement, and taking every opportunity to voice your needs during this time. Some of the recommendations made by other groups during the first consultation were quite aggressive. This is why we need your support to loudly oppose policies that do not reflect the realities of your business. 

Keep checking our website for more updates on BC’s employment standards and labour code!