November 18, 2009
For immediate release
Labour Minister Tables Amendments to the Employment Standards Act and Regulations
Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour
The Honourable Carolyn Bertram, Minister of Labour, was pleased today to table amendments to the Employment Standards Act and Regulations in the PEI Legislature.
It had been more than a decade since the Employment Standards Act and Regulations had last been reviewed when the review committee began their process three years ago.
“These recommended changes are the result of much consultation and input by employees and employers,” said Minister Bertram. “Employment in Prince Edward Island is growing and changing, and legislation should reflect the modern workplace.”
Among the amendments to be considered by the legislature are the following:
• an additional week of paid vacation after eight continuous years of employment;
• one day of paid bereavement leave;
• one day of paid sick leave after 10 continuous years of employment;
• court leave as an additional special leave under the Act;
• continuity of employment after a business is sold or transferred;
• director’s liability;
• banking of overtime hours;
• enhanced access/benefits regarding maternity/parental/adoptive leave; and
• enhanced pay protections.
The proposed changes to the Act also include an amendment to reflect federal government changes to its Compassionate Care Program.
Government is also proposing amendments related to limiting work week variance, penalties for legislation contravention and changes related to minimum wage rate criteria and input.
“More than 58,000 workers on Prince Edward Island have their working conditions regulated by the Employment Standards Act and Regulations,” said Minister Bertram. “This legislation is critical to workers who are not able to enjoy the benefits and protections offered by collective agreements.”
Amendments to the Employment Standards Act (the Act) will be considered in the fall sitting of the Prince Edward Island Legislature. The proposed amendments represent the most comprehensive examination of the legislation in approximately 15 years. This document provides a background to the proposed amendments.
What is the purpose of the Act?
The Employment Standards Act is legislation that sets out minimum standards of the employment relationship between employers and employees on Prince Edward Island. The legislation has existed in this province in one form or another since its introduction in the late 1950's. The Act ensures employers who are subject to the legislation will provide employees with at least the minimum wage, vacation pay, paid holiday pay and other minimum standards of employment. The Act also establishes standards for employees regarding qualification rules for entitlements under the legislation.
Why was the Act reviewed?
The Employment Standards Act was reviewed by a government-appointed committee in 2006. At that time, the Act had not been comprehensively reviewed for more than a decade. Over that same period, other Canadian jurisdictions had continued to enhance their respective employment standards legislation. Island workplaces have also changed as a result of the growing incidence of part-time or non-standard employment.
Who has been involved in the review process?
The 2006 legislative review of the Act was conducted by a three-member committee composed of an employee representative, an employer representative and a neutral chairperson. The eight-month review included a detailed examination of the Act and Regulations, a review of similar legislation of other Canadian jurisdictions and input from subject specialists, stakeholders and the public. The consultation effort culminated in a two-day public hearing where the review committee received oral and written submissions from stakeholders and individual citizens.
Input was received from the following organizations:
Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, Canadian Union of Public Employees - PEI, Employer’s Council Inc., Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, Greater Summerside Area Chamber of Commerce, National Anti-Poverty Organization, PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women, PEI Federation of Agriculture, PEI Federation of Labour, Tourism Industry Association of PEI, Women’s Network PEI, and Working Group for a Livable Income.
Following its review of the Employment Standards Act, the committee presented its discussion paper to government in the fall of 2006. The discussion paper outlined several recommendations to enhance the legislation. The government received follow-up input about the discussion paper recommendations from business and labour groups. This input was considered also by the government.
What legislative changes will be introduced to the legislature?
The proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act are the result of a comprehensive review and consultation process that involved subject specialists, stakeholders, and individual citizens. Among the amendments to be considered by the legislature are the following:
a) an additional week of paid vacation after eight continuous years of employment;
b) one day of paid bereavement leave;
c) one day of paid sick leave after 10 continuous years of employment;
d) court leave as an additional special leave under the Act;
e) continuity of employment after a business is sold or transferred;
f) director’s liability;
g) banking of overtime hours;
h) enhanced access/benefits re. maternity/parental/adoptive leave; and
i) enhanced pay protections.
How will the amendments benefit Islanders? Businesses? Government?
The proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act can benefit all Islanders by ensuring the legislation continues to provide relevant employment standards for the contemporary Island workplace.
The amendments to the Act include changes that permit greater flexibility within the legislation for employers and employees to address overtime and vacation pay compensation. The amendments also include changes that provide enhanced benefits or access to existing employment standards as well as the introduction of new standards such as director’s liability and continuity of employment provisions.
From the perspective of government, the proposed changes will help to ensure the Employment Standards Act continues to be a reasonable, relevant and reliable regulator of the relationship between employers and employees on Prince Edward Island. These changes are intended also to promote harmonious and productive workplaces for the benefit of all Islanders.