Canada: Régime De Retraite Et Avantages Sociaux : Un Employeur Peut-il Implicitement Renoncer À Son Droit De Les Modifier?

C'est à cette question que la Cour supérieure a répondu le 13 juin 2016 dans le cadre d'un jugement condamnant IBM à verser plus de 23 millions de dollars à 451 travailleurs et retraités de l'usine de Bromont pour avoir modifié unilatéralement une clause de leur régime de retraite.

Faits en l'espèce:

IBM exploite à Bromont une usine où Suvrent des centaines d'employés non syndiqués.

À l'époque, IBM offrait un régime de retraite à prestations déterminées prévoyant une prestation de raccordement afin d'encourager la retraite anticipée . Cette prestation  permettait aux travailleurs de toucher environ 7000$ par année entre le moment de leur retraite anticipée et l'âge de 65 ans.

En 1994, dans un contexte économique difficile, IBM a annoncé le remplacement du régime de retraite à prestations déterminées par un régime de retraite à cotisations déterminées. Les employés existants de la compagnie pouvaient cependant choisir de demeurer au sein du régime à prestations déterminées auquel était rattachée la prestation de raccordement précédemment mentionnée. IBM offrait à ses employés une majoration de 40% des contributions accumulées au nom de chacun s'ils acceptaient un tel transfert. Les employés ont opté pour le régime existant préférant bénéficier éventuellement de la prestation de raccordement dans le cas d'une retraite anticipée.

Une dizaine d'années plus tard, soit en janvier 2006, IBM a fait savoir à ses employés qu'elle mettait fin aux prestations de raccordement pour les employés prenant leur retraite après le 31 décembre 2007.La compagnie mettait alors aussi fin à la couverture pour soins de santé après l'âge de 65 ans.

En décembre 2008, Jean Samoisette, un ancien employé d'IBM, a initié un recours collectif contre IBM. Au moment de cette modification, M. Samoisette n'était pas encore admissible à la prestation de raccordement. Il avait droit à une retraite anticipée en 2008. Dans son cas, cette prime totalisait environ 110 000$.

IBM a soutenu n'avoir jamais garanti que le régime de pension ne serait pas modifié.

Décision:

Dans son jugement, l'honorable François P. Duprat conclut qu'IBM ne peut pas revenir sur une représentation faite à ses employés à l'effet de leur verser une prestation de raccordement lors d'une retraite anticipée alors qu'ils sont sur le point d'y avoir droit.

La Cour considère que les avantages conférés aux employés d'IBM, soit le régime de pension, la prestation de raccordement et les avantages aux retraités font partie de la rémunération et forment des composantes du contrat de travail entre l'employé et IBM.

Le juge reconnaît que ces avantages peuvent être modifiés de façon unilatérale et qu'un employeur peut préserver sa capacité de le faire. D'ailleurs, pour ce qui est de la couverture pour soins de santé après l'âge de 65 ans, le juge conclut qu'IBM a conservé ce droit.

En effet, la preuve n'a pas permis, aux yeux de la Cour, de conclure que la compagnie avait fait quelconque représentation à l'effet qu'il n'y aurait pas de modification du régime. La Cour s'est appuyée sur certains aspects économiques dont, entre autres, la recherche par IBM d'un meilleur rendement pour ses actionnaires et son désir de contrôler les coûts grandissants des avantages sociaux à travers ses filiales, pour conclure que l'employeur était justifié de modifier son régime d'assurance collective.

Cependant, et c'est en cela que cette décision de la Cour justifie notre attention, le juge considère qu'IBM, par ses agissements, a renoncé implicitement à son droit de modifier de façon discrétionnaire son régime de retraite.

La Cour retient, sur la base d'une interprétation large de la notion de «représentations», que les employés se sont fiés sur les informations transmises par IBM lorsqu'ils ont pris la décision de demeurer dans le régime existant à prestations déterminées. Selon la Cour, ces employés ont alors planifié leur retraite en fonction, non seulement du montant de la rente, mais aussi de la prestation de raccordement.

Il est important de noter que, jusqu'à l'annonce des changements en 2006, les relevés des prestations de retraite, le guide explicatif distribué aux employés ainsi que le logiciel de calcul des rentes estimées ne comprenaient pas de clause à l'effet que le régime de retraite pouvait être modifié par l'employeur.

La Cour conclut qu'IBM ne pouvait pas retirer à ses employés une prestation de raccordement, cette dernière faisant partie intégrante de la rémunération à laquelle les employés pouvaient s'attendre avoir droit au moment de leur retraite.

L'action collective des travailleurs et ex-employés d'IBM a donc été accueillie en partie et IBM est condamnée à payer l'ensemble des réclamations individuelles liées aux prestations de raccordement se chiffrant, avec intérêts, à 23 519 000 $.

Cette décision fait valoir l'importance, pour un employeur, de prendre les moyens nécessaires afin de communiquer aux employés de façon claire et transparente que les régimes en place pourront être modifiés de temps à autre. Ne pas mesurer la portée des annonces et représentations faites à ses employés en ce qui a trait aux avantages sociaux en place peut s'avérer, tel que nous le constatons en l'espèce, extrêmement coûteux.

IBM dit étudier ses options quant au fait de porter ce jugement en appel. Cette cause continuera donc probablement de susciter un vif intérêt.

About BLG

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
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).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions