Canada Labour Code amendments come into force on April 1, 2014

In a previous post, we reported on anticipated amendments to the “minimum employment standards” provisions in Part III of the Canada Labour Code. The Federal Government recently announced that those amendment will come into force on April 1, 2014. The new provisions of the Code will apply to federally regulated employers and their employees.

The amendments are primarily administrative in nature, and are intended to bring the Code in line with the legislation in other jurisdictions.

Some of the more significant changes are with respect to the following:

  • Limitation periods: Generally speaking, employees will have six months to bring a complaint regarding unpaid wages or other amounts. In most cases, a payment order made by an inspector will be limited to the 12-month period prior to the date of the complaint or termination. The time limit for payment orders relating to vacation pay will be 24 months.
  • Statutory complaint mechanism: A new procedure will be implemented to allow employees to file written complaints to the Labour Program alleging a contravention by their employer of the standards in the Code.
  • Review mechanism: Employers or employees will have access to a new level of review when an inspector makes a payment order or rejects a complaint. The review, which must be applied for within 15 days, will be heard by a referee appointed by the minister. The referee will have the power to confirm, rescind or vary the decision of the inspector.
  • Unpaid vacation pay: Employers will be required to pay unpaid vacation pay to an employee within 30 days of termination. Currently the Code does not set a specific deadline for paying unpaid vacation pay.

The new provisions are intended to benefit both employers and employees, in that they provide for a more efficient and effective method of dealing with complaints that will now be limited to a strictly-defined time period.

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