Changes to the Quebec Act respecting labour standards: what does it mean for your business?

Is one of your employees asking to take some time off?
Does one of your employees believe they are a victim of workplace harassment?
Do you need to use overtime?

Situations like these are routine for you as an employer, and they all fall under the Act respecting labour standards. You were probably already familiar with some of these standards, but many of them have recently changed.

On June 12, 2018, the government amended the Act respecting labour standards. You now have to consider these changes when managing your business and your employees. 

CFIB’s Counsellors have carefully analyzed the Act to find out how your business will be affected. Details of how some of the changes will be applied have yet to be determined, but we have identified the changes that are most likely to affect you. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more details!

Here are the changes that took effect January 1, 2019: 

Remuneration for your employees’ days of absence

In 2019, your employees who justify three months of uninterrupted service will be able to take two days off with pay during the same year in the event of sickness, an accident, an organ or tissue donation, domestic violence, sexual violence or a family matter. With your consent, those days can be divided. 

These first two days taken annually shall be remunerated according to the statutory holidays calculation formula. They do not have to be paid at the end of the year if they go unused. 

Refusal to work

Since January 1, 2019, your employees can refuse to work more than two hours over their daily work hours.

You also have to release your employees’ work schedules at least five days in advance; otherwise, they are allowed to refuse to show up to work. However, this requirement does not apply if the nature of your employees’ duties requires that they remain available, such as in the case of farm workers.

Annual vacation

Your employees are entitled to three weeks of paid vacation after three years of uninterrupted service, instead of after five years.

Leave for the birth or adoption of a child

After the birth or adoption of a newborn child, parents are entitled to five days off. The first two days will be paid for anyone in this situation from the moment they are hired.

Leave in the event of death

An employee may be absent from work for five days, two of them with pay, following the death of an immediate family member (spouse, parent, child, brother, sister, spouse’s child). This leave must take place between the death and the funeral.

Psychological and sexual harassment at work

Psychological harassment has always implicitly included sexual harassment. As of June 12, 2018, the Act makes that inclusion explicit.

Employees who believe they are victims of psychological or sexual harassment now have two years to file a complaint with the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST), instead of 90 days as before.

The Act states that “employers must take reasonable action to prevent psychological harassment and, whenever they become aware of such behaviour, to put a stop to it.”

The government now requires that all employers put in place a psychological harassment prevention and complaint process policy.

Do you need a prevention policy template? Contact us! We have a policy just for you!

Placement agencies

Placement agencies will be subject to certain rules. For instance, they will need a licence to operate. A regulation is yet to be adopted to enforce these requirements. We will let you know as soon as the government has crafted these regulations!

Many more changes are already in effect since 2018:

Rights of victims of domestic or sexual violence

As of June 12, 2018, victims of domestic or sexual violence may be absent for up to 26 weeks over a period of 12 months.

Choosing between a statutory holiday indemnity or a compensatory leave

Before June 12, 2018, when your employees had to work on a statutory holiday, you could either pay them a statutory holiday indemnity or give them a paid compensatory leave. Employees who already had the day off on the holiday were simply paid an indemnity.

You can now choose to either pay your employees a statutory holiday indemnity or give them a paid compensatory leave, whether they worked on this statutory holiday or not.

For instance, imagine a statutory holiday is on a Monday, but your employee only works from Tuesday to Friday. They already have the statutory holiday off because of their schedule. Before June 12, they had to be paid an indemnity, but as of June 12, you can either pay them an indemnity OR give them a compensatory leave.

Vacation indemnity for seasonal workers

Rather than paying employees a vacation indemnity from the moment they are laid off, you can now legally pay the percentage of vacation indemnity with each pay, when your employees’ seasonal or intermittent activities warrant it.

Staggered working hours

With the new changes to employment standards, you no longer need CNESST’s authorization to reach an agreement with your employees for staggered working hours that are not on a weekly basis. However, you must meet certain conditions.

The agreement cannot be reached retroactively. It must be planned ahead of time with your employees and be documented in writing.

The agreement must also span a period of up to four weeks, and a work week cannot exceed the standard set out in the Act or the regulations by more than 10 hours. For most employees, a work week cannot exceed 50 hours.

Finally, both employees and employers can terminate the agreement with at least two weeks’ notice before the expected end of the staggering period agreed upon.

These are the changes that are most likely to affect your business. For more information on all the changes, you can visit the CNESST website (French only) or contact your Business Counsellor. Our expertise can help you see things more clearly!