Saskatchewan has overhauled all of its employment related laws
and combined them into The Saskatchewan Employment Act.
While the Act itself has been finalized it has not yet come into
force and is not yet law. The hold-up appears to be the
mammoth-sized Regulations which have not yet been released by the
Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety. The rumor is
that the Act will be proclaimed into law at the end of March of
This is the largest overhaul of Saskatchewan employment laws in
decades. No doubt there will be an adjustment period and there will
be great improvements and challenges while workplaces across
Saskatchewan must adjust to the new laws.
One of these potential changes that may pose a challenge is the
reinvention of the "standard work week". Another
significant change is the expanded period for decertification
The Standard Workweek
Currently a "standard work week" in Saskatchewan is 8
hours a day and 40 hours a week. An employee who works above and
beyond these daily and/or weekly hours must be paid overtime at 1.5
times their wage. This is the "default" work week and is
the only current option without obtaining an "averaging
The Saskatchewan Employment Act is changing this
"default" 40-hour work week. The Act will permit
two types of standard work weeks at the sole
discretion of the employer. These options for the new
"standard" work week will be:
the standard five-day (5), eight-hour (8) work week,
a four-day (4), ten-hour (10) work week.
Full-time employees who work either of these new schedules will
not need to be paid overtime. However, it appears
that part-time employees will still be entitled to overtime after 8
hours are worked in a day. Once the Regulations are released, we
will provide an update on whether part-time employees must still be
paid overtime after 8 hours.
Despite the increased flexibility, employees still must consent
to working more than 44 hours in a week, and are not permitted to
be scheduled for more than 44 hours in the normal course of
business. The Saskatchewan Employment Act does allow for
some exceptions under extenuating circumstances. For example, the
44 hours per week cap would not apply if there is an emergency
circumstance where there is imminent risk or danger to a person,
property or an employer's business that could not have been
foreseen by the employer.
A further change to The Saskatchewan Employment Act is
that overtime hours can now be banked if the employer and employee
come to an agreement on this. Currently, the law in Saskatchewan
does not allow an employee to bank overtime hours. However, the
reality is that many employers and employees currently agree to
Expanded Decertification Timelines
The Saskatchewan Employment Act will also drastically
change the timelines for decertification applications. Currently,
in Saskatchewan union members have the right to apply for
decertification from their union only during certain set periods.
This is standard across all jurisdictions in Canada. These defined
set periods balance the right and opportunity of employees to
decertify from their union, with the need for unions to have
periods of stability so that they can effectively represent their
The Saskatchewan Employment Act will allow
decertification applications at any time after the first two years
of the unit's existence. The only rule is that there would have
to be 12 months between attempts at decertification. Other than
that, the union could face having to respond to decertification
campaigns at any time, including during times of intense
Therefore, the concept of an open period for decertification of
a union will be all but eliminated, and the open period is now
anytime with few narrow exceptions:
Not during the first two years following the first
certification order; and
Not within 12 months of a previously failed decertification
These expanded open periods for decertification will be the most
liberal across Canadian jurisdictions and unions could see an
increase in applications for decertification in Saskatchewan.
The changes reviewed above could have a significant impact on
workplaces and accountability for employers in Saskatchewan. We
will monitor developments relating to this legislation and will
provide future updates.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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