Employers know that there are labour and employment laws that
they must apply when conducting business – understanding what
set of laws should be followed for Canadian employers is not always
easy. Every Canadian employer must correctly identify whether it is
covered by federal or provincial legislation.
The recent decision of Greaves v Actton Transport Ltd 2015 CanLII 10860 (ON
LA) illustrates just how confusing identifying the proper
legislation can be for both employers and employees alike. In this
case, two employees brought a complaint under the Canada Labour
Code as they both believed that their company was covered by
federal laws. Before the arbitrator even heard the merits of the
case, however, the employer's preliminary objection that the
Canada Industrial Relations Board had no jurisdiction had to be
Most employment relationships are covered by provincial
legislation, however, federal law applies in certain industries and
circumstances. For example, interprovincial trucking companies
apply federal law. This fact is likely why the employees mistakenly
brought their claim to the CIRB. The two employees worked for a
branch of SuperSave in the GTA. The employees' duties involved
picking up, delivering, installing and dismantling portable toilets
in the GTA. SuperSave, however, was highly integrated with Actton
Transport which is a federally-regulated trucking company. Actton
supplies materials by transport truck across provincial lines to
the SuperSave companies. The employees believed that because Actton
and SuperSave were interconnected that SuperSave should also be
regulated by federal law.
The arbitrator disagreed.
The complaint was dismissed as the arbitrator found he lacked
jurisdiction over the complaint as SuperSave was bound to
provincial laws. Even though SuperSave was owned and directed by
Actton, a federal company, SuperSave was functionally distinct,
located in Ontario and not a vital or essential part of the federal
The arbitrator determined that in cases like this the proper
test to apply is the functional integration test. This test was
summarized as requiring some integrated activity or purpose of the
otherwise local work or undertaking with the operations of the
federal work or undertaking that is vital or essential.
The arbitrator found that a common commercial interest, sharing
payroll, common human resources administration, or common direction
and control were not enough for SuperSave to be bound to federal
Why is it important to apply the correct set of laws? Although
in the Greaves case the Employer was able to use the
jurisdictional confusion to its advantage to have the complaints
dismissed, this same type of confusion can also create liability
The federal and provincial sets of laws that regulate the
employment relationship have different standards. For example
overtime and holiday provisions differ under the Employment
Standards Act, 2000 and the Canada Labour Code.
Therefore, employers should be certain that the correct laws are
being applied to avoid liability and to ensure that any disputes
can proceed in the correct forum.
The lawyers at CCPartners can assist employers in undertaking a
legal analysis of the jurisdictional issues between federal and
provincial legislation and can advise employers on how to comply
with the appropriate set of labour and employment laws.
Please Note: This blog has been prepared as an informational
service for our clients and other interested parties. It is not
intended to constitute legal advice, a complete statement of the
law or opinion on any subject. Although we endeavour to ensure the
accuracy of the content, no one should act upon the information
provided without a thorough examination of the law after the facts
of a specific situation are fully considered.
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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