Employment Standards Amendment Bill Would Implement BCLI Recommendations

30 April 2019

By Greg Blue, Q.C.

Recommendations contained in the BCLI Report on the Employment Standards Act are reflected in some provisions of the Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2019 (Bill 8), which had first reading on April 29, 2019. The BC Ministry of Labour media release relating to the bill notes that it incorporates recommendations made by BCLI, in addition to input from other organizations and the public. The Ministry’s media release also contains a link to the BCLI report.

The Employment Standards Act sets minimum standards for employment in provincially regulated workplaces in British Columbia, except in relation to occupational health and safety and collective bargaining. Before BCLI began the Employment Standards Act Reform Project in 2014, the Act had not undergone a comprehensive review in more than twenty years, despite the extent to which ways of working and the nature of the workplace had evolved in the meantime.

BCLI conducted the project with the aid of an expert volunteer committee chaired by Tom Beasley of Bernard LLP. The 12-member committee was carefully chosen to represent a balance of employer and worker interests, and a senior policy official from the Ministry of Labour attended meetings as an observer. The BCLI project culminated in the Report on the Employment Standards Act, which was issued in December 2018.

Provisions in Bill 8 that are consistent with recommendations in the BCLI Report on the Employment Standards Act are ones concerning:

  • employment of children;
  • tips and gratuities, and tip pooling;
  • the complaint and investigation procedure;
  • redefinition of “domestic worker” to abolish the requirement of living in the employer’s residence;
  • clarification that the reinstatement obligations of the employer after an employee takes a statutory non-discretionary leave do not create a preferential right of recall;
  • the effect of failure to give notice of group termination to the Minister;
  • aligning the successor employer provision (s. 97) with its counterpart in the Labour Relations Code;
  • continuity of employment under a court-appointed receiver.

The Ministry of Labour has described the contents of the bill as “priority amendments,” implying that others may follow.  If so, BCLI hopes that more of the recommendations in its Report on the Employment Standards Act will find their way into law.

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