The long-awaited proclamation of several important amendments to
the Canada Labour Code (the Code), have finally
been announced. On March 12, 2014, the Federal Government
announced that April 1, 2014 will be the day that certain sections
of the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012, will come into
force. The Jobs and Growth Act, 2012, also known
informally as Bill C-45, received Royal Assent in December 2012 as
a means to implement parts of the 2012 Federal Budget.
Of particular note for employers in the federal jurisdiction is
that the Bill C-45 amendments will establish precise time limits
for complaints for unpaid wages and other alleged employment
standards violations under Part III of the Code.
Currently under the Code, there is no time limit on the
recovery of unpaid wages through payment orders and employers are
at risk of a wage order that could extend back to an employee's
Once Bill C-45 comes into force, complaints for unpaid wages
must abide by the following time limits (subject to any extensions
prescribed by the regulations):
Complaints for non-payment of wages or other amounts to which
an employee is entitled under Part III of the Code, must
be made within six months from the last day on
which the employer was required to pay those wages or other
In addition, any other complaint must be made within six months
from the day on which the subject matter of the complaint
With respect to the period of time covered by a payment order, a
payment order will cover wages and other amounts owing for a period
starting 12 months before the day on which the complaint was made
or the 12 months before the date of termination. This period
is extended to 24 months with respect to unpaid vacation pay.
The addition of time limits for making complaints under the
Code as well as the introduction of a fixed period of time
for which a payment order for unpaid wages can be made will bring
the Code in line with many other provincial jurisdictions
(including Ontario) that have similar protections. In addition, it
will clarify the determination for amounts owing on payment orders
and reduce the likelihood of appeals that attempt to either extend
or reduce the period covered by the payment order. Finally,
employers will benefit from the protection of not having to defend
dated wage complaints.
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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