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2024 updates to Canadian labor laws


With the arrival of 2024, Canada is experiencing a series of significant changes in its labor laws. These reforms have a direct impact on every organization and employee.

As HR professionals, understanding these new legal provisions and making corresponding strategic adjustments is crucial for ensuring compliance with regulations, protecting employee rights, and maintaining healthy employment relationships. The following is an in-depth interpretation of some key labor law changes in Canada in 2024, including a ban on replacement workers, longer notice periods for termination, pay transparency laws, and accessibility legislation. Let’s delve into these changes and prepare for the upcoming challenges.

Ban on Replacement Workers

In 2024, a significant change in Canadian labor law is the prohibition of replacement workers in specific circumstances, aimed at better protecting the rights and interests of striking workers. According to the new regulations, if employees of federally regulated employers go on strike, employers cannot use replacement workers to maintain operations unless doing so prevents significant impacts on public health or workplace safety.

This ban strengthens the rights of striking workers. Typically, employers might hire replacement workers during a strike, adversely affecting the negotiating position of the strikers. The new regulation enhances workers’ ability to express demands and negotiate rights through striking by limiting this practice.

Moreover, the ban includes restrictions for specific roles, such as managerial staff, employees hired after collective bargaining begins, independent contractors, and those hired confidentially. Employees hired in key business areas before the issuance of the collective bargaining notice may be exempt.

Employers violating this provision will be deemed to have engaged in unfair labor practices and face fines up to CAD 100,000 per day and federal orders to cease using replacement workers.

The implementation of this ban is expected to significantly impact Canada’s labor market, especially in industries with frequent strike activities. For employers, this means more cautious consideration of strategies in response to potential strikes and possibly deeper communication and negotiation with employee unions.

HR professionals need to closely monitor this change and be ready to adjust HR policies and practices as necessary to comply with the new legal requirements. Additionally, they should assess the impact of such changes on organizational operations and employee relations and develop corresponding strategies.

Longer Notice Periods for Termination

In 2024, Canada implemented new laws for longer notice periods or pay in lieu for federally regulated private sector employees. This change means that employers must provide longer notice or equivalent pay in lieu when terminating employees without cause.

The length of notice or pay in lieu depends on the employee’s continuous length of service:

After 3 months of continuous service, 2 weeks’ notice or pay in lieu is required.
After 3 years, 3 weeks’ notice is required.
Thereafter, one additional week for each year of continuous service, up to a maximum of 8 weeks.
This law aims to better protect employees from the impact of sudden unemployment, giving them more time to find new employment or prepare for career transitions. For employers, this means more consideration in termination decisions due to potentially higher costs and responsibilities.

Moreover, the new regulation does not affect employees’ rights to severance pay. Any employee with over 12 months of continuous service is entitled to severance pay in addition to notice or pay in lieu upon termination.

These changes have a significant impact on HR management practices, requiring HR professionals to reassess and adjust termination procedures and policies. To adapt to these changes, updates to employee handbooks, contract terms, and termination processes may be necessary to ensure compliance with new legal requirements. This also highlights the importance of advance planning and effective communication in managing employment relationships, especially when considering termination decisions.

Therefore, HR departments need to closely monitor these changes to ensure compliance of all relevant policies and processes, while effectively managing internal expectations and communication. This will help maintain a fair, transparent work environment, supporting the organization’s long-term stability and employee satisfaction.

Pay Transparency Laws

In 2024, Canada introduced new legislative measures in pay transparency. These laws aim to increase transparency in pay in the workplace, promoting equality and fairness. The specifics of the pay transparency laws vary by province, but key elements include:

Public wage rate reporting: Some provinces require employers to report wage rates to government agencies, improving public understanding of pay levels across different positions and industries.
Salary ranges in job postings: New laws may require employers to list salary ranges in job postings, informing applicants of the pay level upfront, reducing pay discrimination, and promoting open communication between applicants and employers.

Prohibition of inquiring about applicants’ salary history: To reduce unfair discrepancies based on past earnings, new laws may prohibit employers from asking candidates about their salary history during the hiring process.

Freedom to discuss pay: Laws in some provinces may prohibit any form of retaliation against employees who discuss pay and benefits, encouraging open discussions about pay in the workplace to foster a fairer pay environment.

These changes in pay transparency laws require HR professionals to reconsider and adjust compensation strategies and communication methods. Employers need to ensure their recruitment practices, pay structures, and internal communication strategies comply with the new legal requirements. This may involve updating recruitment advertisements, adjusting salary negotiation processes, and enhancing employee education about compensation policies.

By implementing these pay transparency measures, Canada aims to create a more equitable and transparent work environment, reducing pay inequities and improving employee job satisfaction and engagement. For HR, this means more meticulous management of compensation policies, ensuring fair and transparent pay practices, and being attentive to employee and applicant expectations and feedback.

Accessibility Legislation

In 2024, Canada implemented a series of new legislations in the field of accessibility, aimed at enhancing workplace accessibility and ensuring that all employees, including those with disabilities, can work in an equal and inclusive environment.

Under these new legislations, accessibility is emphasized as a key part of employers’ responsibilities, especially for federally regulated private and public companies. These changes include:

Development and publication of accessibility plans: Employers are required to create and publicly disclose accessibility plans, outlining how the company will improve and ensure workplace accessibility. These plans should cover various aspects of accessibility measures, including physical environment improvements, technological support, and communication method optimization.
Progress reporting: Employers need to report regularly on accessibility progress, demonstrating how they implement and improve accessibility plans. These reports help transparently showcase the company’s efforts and achievements in accessibility.

Establishment of feedback mechanisms: Employers must provide a way for employees and the public to comment and provide feedback on accessibility compliance. This ensures the continuous improvement and adaptability of accessibility plans.

Accessibility in job application and hiring processes: Employers need to ensure that recruitment processes are open to all, including providing necessary accommodations and technology to support applicants with disabilities.

Workplace adaptations and support: Once employed, employers must provide appropriate support and adjustments to ensure that employees can work efficiently in an accessible environment. This may include providing special equipment, flexible work arrangements, or other necessary support.
The implementation of these accessibility legislations means that HR professionals need to pay more attention to the development and execution of accessibility policies. HR departments need to ensure that the company’s policies, procedures, and practices comply with the new legal requirements, while also increasing awareness and understanding of accessibility issues. Additionally, this emphasizes the importance of considering accessibility needs in recruitment, training, and daily management, as well as creating an inclusive and supportive work environment for all employees.

As we delve deeply into the significant updates to Canadian labor laws in 2024, we can see that these changes signify important shifts in the labor market and employment environment. As HR professionals, we must maintain flexibility and adaptability to ensure our organizations can smoothly transition under these new legal frameworks. This involves not only complying with the law but also maintaining a fair, transparent, and competitive work environment, supporting the continuous development of our employees and business. Let us work together to embrace these new opportunities and thrive in this evolving labor law landscape.

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