On April 1, 2014, Bill C-45, also known as the Jobs and
Growth Act, 2012,1 came into effect, amending
parts of the Canada Labour Code (the
For federally regulated employers, the recent amendments
introduce a comprehensive statutory framework for complaints
relating to unpaid wages and other alleged violations of the
Code, as well as regulations for orders made under Part
III of the Code. This framework also imposes new
time limits for complaints, payment of vacation pay and recovery of
unpaid wages. In addition, the Bill C-45 amendments modify the
administrative process for challenging a payment order.
New Complaint Time Limit
Under the new amendments, complaints of unpaid wages will be
limited to 6 months from the date the employer was required to pay
those wages or other amounts to the employee (subject to extension
in prescribed circumstances). Any other complaints must be made
within 6 months from the day the subject matter of the complaint
Time Limit for Payment Orders
Prior to Bill C-45, payment orders for unpaid wages or other
amounts were not subject to a time limit. An employer could
previously be ordered to pay years of unpaid wages. Now, payment
orders apply to wages (or other amounts) for a period of 12 months
only, starting on the day the complaint was made or 12 months
before the date employment was terminated. The limitation on
vacation pay is extended to 24 months from either the date of the
complaint or termination, whichever is later.
A New Administrative Review Process
Under the new amendments, an employee may make a complaint in
writing to an Employment and Social Development Canada –
Labour Program inspector where he or she believes that an employer
has contravened the Code. Where the inspector finds that
the employer has fulfilled its obligations under the Code
(e.g. paid all outstanding wages within the timelines prescribed),
the inspector must notify the employee in writing that his or her
complaint is "unfounded."
An employee who is notified that his or her complaint is
unfounded, or whose complaint of unjust dismissal has been
rejected, may make a written request within 15 days that the
inspector's decision be reviewed. On review, the Minister may
confirm, rescind, or vary an inspector's decision, or direct
another inspector to re-examine the complaint. The review decision
may only be appealed on a question of jurisdiction or law.
Transitional provisions provide that the Code, as it
existed prior to April 1, 2014, will continue to apply to
complaints filed before April 1, 2014, as well as to notices of
unfounded complaint and payment orders issued in relation to such
complaints before April 1, 2014.
What these New Changes Mean for Federally Regulated
For federally regulated employers, the most noteworthy aspect of
the new Bill C-45 amendments, is the creation of express time lines
for making complaints under Part III of the Code. In addition, new
times lines have also been imposed for payment orders which limit
the period of exposure for employers for unpaid wages or other
amounts. With these new amendments, that are intended to streamline
and simplify the process, employers can look forward to increased
administrative efficiencies and greater certainty, as well as
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.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).