Canadian legislative updates coming in 2022

As the New Year dawns, a number of legislative changes will come into effect that will impact workplaces across Canada. Below are the important changes effective January 1, 2022.

Federal minimum wage increase

As of December 29, 2021, the minimum wage for federally regulated private sector increased to $ 15.00 per hour. The Government of Canada announced the salary increase on April 19, 2021. According to the government, the salaries of approximately 26,000 employees increased as a result of this change. Some of the affected sectors include:

The government will adjust the federal minimum wage each April to fight inflation.

Employers in these industry groups may want to keep in mind that affected employees who earn a provincial or territorial minimum wage above $ 15 an hour are entitled to the higher rate of pay.

British Columbia: introduction of five paid sick days

Effective January 1, 2022, employees in British Columbia will have access to five paid sick days per year. To be eligible, employees must be covered by the Employment Standards Act, and they must have worked for their employer for at least 90 days.

Employees will now have up to eight days of sick leave per year in total: five paid days and three unpaid days to use in case of illness or injury. These days will not carry over to future years, and employers can request “reasonably sufficient proof of illness. “Although employers have the right to request proof of illness, in certain circumstances the request may not be reasonable.

the reasonableness of a request can be evaluated according to:

  • the duration of the employee’s absence;

  • a series of absences;

  • the availability of evidence; and

  • the cost associated with the proof.

In cases where the employer’s request is not reasonable, the employee may not be required to provide proof of illness.

Employers in British Columbia may also want to note the following:

  • Full-time, part-time, temporary and casual employees are covered by the Employment Standards Act and may be eligible for these sick days.

  • Employees are not required to take these sick days consecutively.

  • Employees should receive an average day’s pay while on sick leave. To calculate the average, employers are required to use the 30 calendar days preceding the first day of sickness.

Saskatchewan: Amendments to Saskatchewan Jobs Act

On January 1, 2022, changes to Saskatchewan Jobs Act, 2021, will take effect, which will make the following changes:

  1. Workplace harassment bans, including sexual harassment, will now protect independent contractors, students and volunteers.

  2. “Supervisory employees” will now have access to collective bargaining, whereas previously they were presumed excluded from bargaining units which included the employees they supervise.

  3. Mandatory vaccination policies will need to include an option for employees to provide negative COVID-19 test results every seven days, as an alternative to vaccination.

Currently, Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 vaccination regulations allow employees to choose between providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test every seven days, or providing full proof of vaccination. These regulations apply to public employers and provincially regulated private sector employers who voluntarily implement immunization policies. To protect these employers from liability, lawmakers added a provision to the law covering employers who have complied with COVID-19 vaccination regulations.

Ontario: Increase in minimum wage

In November 2021, the Government of Ontario announcement an increase in the minimum wage effective January 1, 2022. The minimum wage increases are summarized below.

Employees Current hourly wage Suggested hourly wage
General minimum wage $ 14.35 $ 15.00
Students under 18 $ 13.50 $ 14.10
Homeworkers (i.e. people who work from their personal residence) $ 15.80 $ 16.50
Hunting and fishing guides $ 71.75 for working less than five consecutive hours in a day $ 75.00 for working less than five consecutive hours in a day
$ 143.55 for working five or more hours in a day $ 150.05 for working five or more hours in a day
Alcohol servers $ 12.55 $ 15.00

Key points to remember

As these changes take effect, employers may want to check whether they will impact their workplaces and adjust their policies and practices accordingly. Employers who are not affected may nonetheless find it important to note trends in Canadian employment law, as some of these changes may be implemented in their own province in the near future. Specifically, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are expected to increase their minimum wages in 2022.

© 2022, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC, all rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 3

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