In a headline-making decision released in January, 2015, the
Supreme Court of Canada found that the Saskatchewan
government's changes to essential services legislation violated
the constitutionally recognized rights of workers to take job
action under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. After consulting
with various stakeholders, the Saskatchewan government released its
proposed amendments to essential services legislation on October
15, 2015 as Bill 183 – The Saskatchewan Employment
Amendment (Essential Services) Act, 2015.
Highlights of these changes include:
"Essential services" is no
longer a defined term under the legislation, and it will be up to
the parties involved to determine which services are essential for
operating their respective organizations.
New provisions for the required
contents of an essential services agreement.
New procedures for dealing with
situations where no essential services agreement exists between a
public employer and a union and collective bargaining to reach a
new agreement has failed.
The creation of a new tribunal, the
Essential Services Tribunal, to resolve disputes pertaining to:
impasses in collective bargaining; what constitutes an essential
service; and whether an essential services agreement substantially
interferes with the exercise of a strike or lockout. If it is found
that an essential services agreement substantially interferes with
the exercise of a strike or lockout, the new legislation provides
for binding mediation-arbitration by a three-person panel.
New provisions codifying the
following as unfair labour practices:
The failure of a public employer to
not consider qualified persons who are both employees and who are
not members of the affected bargaining unit when determining the
number of positions in a classification who must work during the
work stoppage to maintain essential services;
The failure of a union to identify
qualified employees when identifying the employees who must work
during the work stoppage to maintain essential services.
Failure by either the public employer
or a union to fail or refuse to engage in collective bargaining
with a view to concluding an essential services agreement.
We will continue to monitor the effect of these changes in
practice and will update this blog accordingly.
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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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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