With November comes a change in Part II of the Canada Labour Law, which impacts federally regulated employers. Amendments to Part II were designed to provide the nation’s labour program with broader discretion and flexibility to conduct their work more efficiently.
How do these changes impact you as an employer – and what do you need to know to stay current on Canadian labour legislation?
A New Definition of “Danger”
Under Part II, danger in the workplace is defined as any hazard, condition or activity that could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent or serious threat to the life or health of a person exposed to it. While the prior definition of “danger” was broader, the newly introduced parameters more clearly define immediacy or seriousness components.
- Concerns have been raised in recent years that most worker refusals to work were not justified. The Department of Finance in 2013 reported that more than 80 percent of work refusals turned out to be situations where there was no real danger present.
Changes to the Investigative Process
Part II amendments remove the health and safety officer from the enforcement process and allow the Minister of Labour to have greater oversight and accountability.
- Employers now conduct internal investigations of work refusals, in the presence of the employee. The goal is to resolve complaints internally. The employer also must prepare a written report outlining investigation results.
- If following this investigation, the employer agrees that a danger exist,s they must take immediate action to protect their employees. They also must inform their workplace health and safety committee of the matter and take prompt action to resolve it.
- Workplace committees also have new obligations. If a worker continues to refuse work, they must investigate, again in the presence of the contesting employee. If the stalemate continues, then the complaint is referred to the Minister of Labour.
Approximately 1.2 million Canadians are employed in workplaces covered by federal OSH law. If your company falls under this umbrella, you need to stay current with legislative updates and changes. To learn more, read our related posts or contact the workforce development team at Employment Professionals Canada today.