Canada’s Second Budget Implementation Bill’s Impact

In early October, the federal Government introduced Bill C-45, the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012. In addition to enacting various Budget measures, this bill would also make a number of noteworthy changes to the Canada Labour Code affecting both Canadian employers and employees.

While these changes are of special interest to any federally regulated employer, understanding the budgetary changes and the alterations to the Code is crucial for all businesses and organizations.

In terms of Budget measures, there are five main changes that you should be aware of.

1. Tax changes with respect to employer contributions to group sickness or accident insurance plans.
2. Changes to the regulation of Retirement Compensation Arrangements and Employees Profit Sharing Plans.
3. The introduction of measures to accommodate Pooled Registered Pension Plans.
4. Changes to the Employment Insurance Act.
5. Wide-ranging pension reforms for the federal public service.

There are also three key aspects of the Canada Labour Code that would be amended by Bill C-45—vacation pay, general holidays and the complaints process—all of which may directly impact employer-employee relations in your organization. Discussing these amendments with your employees to ensure that everyone is on the same page will help reduce the possibility of future misunderstandings.

Vacation Pay

Bill C-45 would make an important change to the time frame during which any accrued vacation pay would need to be paid to a former employee. While accrued vacation pay is currently payable “forthwith,” Bill C-45 would alter this to ensure that all vacation pay is paid out within the 30 days following the employee’s last day of work.

This may mean making some payroll changes in order to accommodate the new vacation pay time frame for employees that have recently left your organization.

General Holidays

A few different provisions regarding General Holidays would be affected by Bill C-45.

First, a new “holiday pay” calculation would be introduced that would alter the way in which holiday pay is added up. Holiday pay would now be calculated as 1/20th of the wages earned by your employee during the four weeks before the week of the holiday (not including overtime pay).

Second, if any of your employees are paid on commission for at least 12 weeks of continuous employment, they are now entitled to holiday pay equaling 1/60th of their wages earned during the twelve weeks before the week of the holiday.

Third, Bill C-45 would eliminate the current requirement that your employees work at least 15 days in the previous 30 to be eligible for holiday pay.

It’s a good idea to make sure that all employees understand the amendment to their holiday pay before it is received.

Unpaid Wages

The introduction of this Bill would also amend a few time limits with regards to unpaid wages or violations of the Code, particularly those related to non-union employees.

The first main change is that complaints relating to unpaid wages now need to be brought up within six months following the last pay period. This applies to all wage complaints, except those affiliated with a wrongful dismissal claim.

Bill C-45 also gives inspectors called in to investigate a Canada Labour Code violation greater control over the inspection process. For instance, the new Bill would lay out a wide range of circumstances in which an inspector could dismiss a complaint. While still obligated to provide suggestions for pursuing alternative means to resolve the issue, this gives them far more power to discern which cases would undergo a full investigation.

If you have any questions about how the amendments proposed by Bill C-45 might affect your business or your employees, get in touch with the skilled staff at Employment Professionals Canada. We’d be happy to help!