Update: adoption of Bill 176 and the modifications to the act respecting labour standards

20 July 2018

Last spring, the National Assembly debated Bill 176 amending the Act respecting labor standards and other legislative provisions mainly with a view to facilitating work-life balance. The main amendments to the Act respecting labor standards (the "Act") that were described in our previous article were all adopted by the legislator, who also added several amendments described below. The modifications to the Act, barring the exception noted below, came into force on June 12th.

  • As stated in our previous article, placement and recruitment agencies are required to be licensed to carry out their activities. The Act now provides that the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (hereinafter "CNESST") must maintain and make available to the public a list of license holders;
  • The Act now provides that employers must inform the CNESST of the dates of arrival and departure of temporary foreign workers, as well as the duration of their contract. In addition, CNESST has the right to exercise all legal remedies on behalf of these workers, even without a complaint being lodged by said workers. Further, employers are prohibited from requiring temporary foreign workers to provide them with personal documents to be retained in the possession or control of the employer or to pay or reimburse the costs of their recruitment;
  • The Act further specifies that behavior, words, acts or gestures of a sexual nature may constitute psychological harassment. Along with this change, the time limit for filing a psychological harassment complaint has been greatly increased from 90 days to two years;
  • Special recourse now exists for employees who feel that they have experienced a difference in treatment based solely on their date of hire. Further, the time limit to file such a recourse has been increased from 90 days to 12 months from the date of knowledge of the distinction becoming known to them;
  • Several amendments expand the category of absences due to illness, organ or tissue donation for transplant, accident, criminal or domestic violence, to include absences related to domestic violence as well as sexual violence from which the employee is a victim;
  • The Act provides for the possibility of staggering hours of work other than on a weekly basis for a period of up to four weeks. The proposed additions to the Bill now allow the employer or the employee to terminate such an agreement by giving at least two weeks' notice before the end of the arrangement;

The amendments to the Act came into force on June 12, 2018. However, the new provisions on overtime, hours of work, annual leave, absences and psychological harassment will not come into effect until 1 January 2019.

We remain at the disposal of employers who would like to know more about the potential impact of these amendments to the Act to their respective activities.

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