On April 1, 2014, several important changes to Part III of the
Canada Labour Code (the "Code") came
The Code applies to employers and employees in
federally regulated industries (such as aerospace,
telecommunications, and banking) across the country. It also
applies to businesses in the Yukon and Northwest Territories and to
First Nations reserves. Part III of the Code establishes
minimum employment standards and provides for enforcement
mechanisms for unpaid wages and benefits. It is administered by the
Labour Program of Employment and Social Development Canada (the
Code Amendments Benefit Both Employees and
The federal government has indicated that the purpose of the
amendments is to make compliance with Part III of the Code
easier and less burdensome for both employers and employees, and to
more closely align the Code with provincial employment
The amendments are briefly summarized as follows:
Time Limit for Payment Orders. Claims for
unpaid wages and vacation pay must now be filed within six months
of the date on which the employer was required to make the payment.
Payment orders are now limited to 12 months for wages, and 24
months for vacation pay, from the date of termination or the date
on which the complaint is made. Previously, there was no time limit
either for filing complaints or for the claim period; employees
could bring complaints at any time and could claim years' worth
of wages or vacation pay.
Expanded Complaint Process. Employees can now
file a complaint with the Labour Program if they believe their
employer has contravened any part of Part III. Complaints
must be filed within six months of the non-payment or violation.
Previously, only complaints relating to unpaid wages or unjust
dismissal could be made.
Internal Review. Employees or employers who
disagree with an inspector's decision can now request an
internal review. Previously, appeals of an inspector's decision
were made directly to referees appointed by the Labour
Vacation Pay on Termination. Employers must
now pay any outstanding vacation pay within 30 days of termination.
Previously, employers were required to pay vacation pay
"forthwith" after termination, and had 30 days to pay all
other amounts owing.
Impact on Federally Regulated Employers
The new limitations periods are of significant benefit to all
federally regulated employers. They will serve to significantly
limit potential liability for claims and will provide some clarity
and certainty within the complaint process. The expanded scope of
the complaint process may result in more complaints being filed.
However, of benefit to employers is the internal review mechanism,
which will be more efficient and less burdensome than the previous
system of appeals to referees.
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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