Over the past weeks the government of Quebec has announced several proposals to make modifications to both the normes du travail (labour standards) and to the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP).
While these proposals have not yet been voted into law, and therefore no effective date has been announced, given the current majority government, there are good chances they will become the law in the near future. Employers should therefore start reviewing their current employment practices, such as their HR policies, to see how they could eventually be affected.
One of the government’s priorities was to increase flexibility and improve quality of life for workers, particularly those with families. Measures include:
- Employees will now be entitled to two paid days per year for reasons of illness or family Previously there was no obligation to pay for sick days.
- Employees will be entitled to three weeks of vacation after 3 years of service. Previously, employees only earned this right after 5 years of service.
- Recognition of the status of caregiver in order to allow additional days off to employees caring for a relative. They will also extend the definition of relatives beyond parents.
- Employees will be granted the right to refuse work if they’re asked to work more than two hours beyond their regular work schedule and if they’ve not been advised of their work schedule with at least five days’ notice (unless their position requires them to be available at all times).
- Employees will be allowed to spread their maternity/paternity leave over a period of two years and will be allowed greater flexibility in how the time is taken off; for example, giving employees the option of returning to work progressively.
Other measures announced include:
- Employers will be obliged to have a policy to prevent and handle sexual harassment
- Placement agencies who provide temporary workers will be required to have a permit and must ensure that the workers they place earn at least the same wages as regular employees of the client company. Clients of these agencies are to be advised: they will be responsible for any wages left unpaid by the agency.
- The use of orphan clauses would be prohibited. Companies who already have these clauses in place, which provide better work conditions to employees who have more seniority, will be grandfathered. However, it would not be permitted to have these clauses in any new agreement. While the use of orphan clauses is already prohibited in salary scales, it has been permitted in other benefits, such as retirement and insurance plans.
- Employees will be allowed two paid days off and three unpaid days off to attend the funeral of an immediate family member (currently only one paid day is provided for, the remaining four are unpaid).
- Employees will be permitted an absence of 104 weeks following the death of a minor child. (currently at 52 weeks)
One announcement would benefit employers:
- Authorization of the normes du travail would no longer be required to stagger work hours over a period of up to four weeks in order to minimize overtime payments.
If adopted, this law with undoubtedly have an important impact on staffing and HR management costs for many companies. For example, small and medium-sized businesses who already have difficult financial means, might have to double their efforts to comply and attract talent. However, adapting HR policies would likely be more advantageous than the cost of managing possible disputes or reclamations for non-compliance.
That’s said, given the tight labour market, many employers have or are in the process of putting in place flexible HR practices and benefits to increase their attractiveness, create a humane workplace and retain top talent.
Read more on putting in place HR Policies: Defining the rules of the game
Given the number of changes proposed, as well as their scope, employers should stay up-to-date as to any other announcements regarding the adoption of this project. The team of HR, People & Culture advisors at Pvisio are also available to answer your questions.
Looking for guidance in creating and/or reviewing your HR policies or practices? Contact one of our HR, People and Culture Advisors for a free consultation. Small and medium-sized businesses can be eligible for subsidies with Emploi-Québec covering up to 50% of our fees.
Note that the above points are a summary for informational purposes only and that exceptions can apply.