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Labour standards reform: you need more flexibility!

In March 2018, the Quebec government undertook a massive labour standards reform project with the objective of facilitating family-work balance—a lofty goal, but a costly one for you: nearly $700 million per year!
We are putting pressure on the government to consider the realities of small businesses and give you more leeway in managing your businesses.

Forcing you to do what you’re already doing: bad for business
We are letting the government know that your employees are important to you. You already have family-work balance measures in place and offer salaries and working conditions that often surpass minimum labour standards.
However, when the government holds you to minimum labour standards regardless of specific circumstances, you are prevented from distributing your business’s resources in a way that suits its needs, principles and commercial reality.
Your small business needs the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions so you can keep up in a competitive market. Being forced to distribute your resources according to a strict plan makes you less competitive!

Some worrying provisions
A sampling of worrying provisions that came into effect on January 1, 2019:

  • According to the government, the cost to businesses will total $700 million per year. Now add the indirect costs generated by these measures, like the domino effect caused by enhancing minimum working conditions in Quebec: in essence, if the government enhances the minimum working conditions of your least experienced employees, you might be required to do the same for your most experienced employees. These indirect costs will be added to your tab!
  • Employees will be entitled to a third week of vacation after three years of service, rather than five years.
  • Workers will enjoy two additional paid days off for family or medical reasons.
  • An employee will have the right to refuse to work if they do not receive their schedule five days or more in advance.
  • In case of an unexpected volume of work or another unforeseeable situation, you will no longer be able to ask an employee who is already at work to temporarily replace an absent employee for more than two hours (the previous limit was four hours).
  • Anyone operating a staffing agency will now be required to hold a permit issued by the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST). Employees paid through an agency and placed with a client of the agency will now be entitled to a salary comparable to that of the client’s permanent employees (the effective date of this measure has yet to be determined).

We have reminded the government that these measures will take away your flexibility when you already have limited room to manoeuvre when it comes to meeting the varied needs of your business and employees.

Employers have their employees’ best interests at heart
We are also reminding the government that you already provide benefits to your employees based on the needs and realities of your business, as shown by the results of one of our recent surveys:

  • 99% of respondents agree that employees’ health and safety at work is important.
  • 98% consistently try to provide their employees with the best working conditions possible.
  • 95% believe that providing good working conditions improves employee retention.
  • 90% believe that providing good working conditions enhances employee productivity.
  • 92% have one or more family-work balance measures in place.
  • The average hourly wage offered by small businesses is 58% higher than the minimum wage.

Do you have questions about the labour standards reform? Any experience you’d like to share with us? Call your CFIB Counsellor.


June 12, 2018

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