Labour Minister Don Morgan says the new Saskatchewan Employment Act will better protect workers, promote growth and increase accountability. The Minister says the new legislation, tabled Tuesday, clearly defines the rights and responsibilities of employees, employers and unions.
The Act rolls 12 pieces of legislation into one that was formed after three months of public consultation. How the province will determine the minimum wage, the option of working fewer, longer days per week and changing the rules for lockouts or strikes are among the many changes.
The Essential Services Act is not part of the legislation pending a Court of Appeal decision on how essential services should be delivered in Saskatchewan. The legislation does, however, include a placeholder section for when a decision is reached.
"Our government remains committed to the principle of protecting essential public services like health care and highway safety in the event of a strike," Labour Minister Don Morgan said. "We will await the direction of the Court before deciding on our next steps in this important matter."
The scope and content was determined by 3,800 submissions when the province asked for feedback earlier this year. The government is now accepting feedback on the new provisions until March 1st, 2013. You can email labourlegislationLRWS@gov.sk.ca
The following are new provisions in The Saskatchewan Employment Act:
- Indexation of the minimum wage to provide security for minimum wage earners and ensure predictability for business owners in the province;
- Legislation to protect individuals searching for work from mistreatment and fraud perpetrated by unscrupulous recruitment service providers;
- The requirement for unions to provide audited financial statements and the results of votes to their members;
- While maintaining the 40 hour work week, two work arrangements will be permitted in the legislation - eight hours per day for five days per week or 10 hours per day for four days per week. This is consistent with other jurisdictions in western Canada;
- Introduction of two new leave provisions - organ donation and leave to attend citizenship ceremonies;
- Clarification of the definition of employee to exclude those employees whose duties are confidential or managerial;
- A definition of supervisory employee that would restrict a supervisor from belonging to the same bargaining unit as those they supervise;
- The ability of employers or employees to decertify a union that has been inactive for three or more years;
- Following an unsuccessful application to decertify a union, employees can apply to decertify the union again after waiting 12 months;
- Changing the ability for a union to fine a member for crossing a picket line, to be consistent with other Canadian jurisdictions;
- Reduction of the qualification period for maternity, parental and adoption leave from 20 weeks to 13 weeks of service; and
- Recognition that no individual or group may be compensated differently on the grounds of any prohibition identified within The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
The following are provisions maintained in The Saskatchewan Employment Act:
- Statutory holidays will be maintained at 10 per year;
- Vacation entitlements will continue to be three weeks per year for the first nineyears of service and after completing 10 years of service will increase to four weeks per year;
- The 40 hour work week will be maintained. Overtime is to be paid for work after eight hours in a day and 40 hours in a week unless a permit or modified work arrangement exists;
- An employee can refuse to work hours in excess of 44 hours in a week;
- Lay-off notice requirements are maintained at one weeks notice for 13 weeks to one year of service to a maximum of eight weeks notice for 10 or more years of service;
- Notice requirements for group termination are maintained;
- The requirement to belong to the union where a union has been certified as the bargaining agent is maintained;
- The current exemption from belonging to the union on religious grounds is maintained;
- Secret ballot votes to ensure workers can express true wishes without fear of reprisal is maintained;
- The ability of employers to communicate directly with employees on any labour relations matter is maintained;
- Employers will continue to collect and remit dues upon the union's and employee's request;
- Picketing activities will remain at the discretion of the Courts;
- The unfair labour practices provisions are maintained; and
- The collective bargaining processes in The Police Act, 1990 and The Education Act, 1995 will be maintained in the respective pieces of legislation. The parties will have access to the enhanced tools for settlement of disputes contained in The Saskatchewan Employment Act.