British Columbia Employment Standards and Labour Relations Reforms Passed

On May 30, 2019, the British Columbia government gave royal assent to an amended version of Bill 8, Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2019 to significantly update the Employment Standards Act, and royal assent to an amended version of Bill 30, Labour Relations Code Amendment Act, 2019 to provide greater protections for unionized workers. According to the government, the changes will better protect workers, bring greater stability for employers and more durable labour relations.

British Columbia changes to employment standards

The majority of the changes found in the Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2019 (introduced as Bill 8) come into force on proclamation at a date specified by an order of the Governor in Council.

What was amended before Bill 8 passed?

Leave respecting domestic violence was amended to cover sexual violence. Therefore the leave will be called Leave respecting domestic or sexual violence and includes sexual abuse by any person and not just an intimate partner or by a family member. In addition, domestic and sexual violence includes: attempts to commit (i) physical abuse by an intimate partner or by a family member, or (ii) sexual abuse by any person.

How to comply?

Employers need to prepare by familiarizing themselves with all of the changes, and reviewing their policies and HR practices to see how these changes impact current rules. We will keep you abreast of the effective dates of the changes once proclaimed. See details on the new and amended provisions in a previous Slaw blog post here.

British Columbia changes to labour relations

Most of the changes in the Labour Relations Code Amendment Act, 2019 (introduced as Bill 30) come into force on assent except for section 10 that comes into force on the day of first reading of the Bill, on April 30, 2019.

What was amended before Bill 30 was passed?

Section 6 of Bill 30 was amended as it relates to section 19, Raid under the Labour Relations Code. Section 19 was going to be amended to restrict union raiding activity to the seventh and eight months of the third year of a collective agreement, and each year thereafter, if the term of a collective agreement is for more than three years. If a collective agreement is for a term of three years or less, raiding may only occur during the seventh and eighth months of the final year of the term. In the construction industry, raiding activity may occur during July and August of each year of the collective agreement. More significantly, Bill 30 additionally provides that, after a successful raid, the raiding union may apply to the Board to have the existing collective agreement terminated if two years or more remain in the term of the collective agreement. Additionally, unions may apply for any other “order or determination the Board considers appropriate” after a successful raid.

During the debates reflected in Hansards it was stated regarding raids in the construction industry. Can the minister explain how he can justify the amendment in this act allowing the construction unions to be raided in July and August of each year of their collective agreements? How is that not divisive to employers, unions and employees?

“That panel, with no dissenting opinion, made a recommendation back to government to move the raiding period — that period in which workers have the ability to select another union — to once every three years. The government outright deviated from the panel’s recommendations in carving out the construction industry, where they believe it is appropriate to have a raiding period each and every year.”

The Green party position was that there needed to be a lot more study of the “unique challenges” in the construction sector before granting an exception to the three-year rule.

After much debate, Section 6 of Bill 30, amending section 19 of the LRC was further amended to better reflect the reality of the construction industry. So raids in the construction industry should be based on once-every-three years standard. For more read Bill 30 as amended.

Time to comply

Unionized workplaces need to familiarize themselves with the new or amended provisions of Bill 30 and see how it impacts their businesses, collective agreement and future collective bargaining rights. See the new and amended provisions in a previous Slaw post here.

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