The New Brunswick government is seeking feedback from
stakeholders on proposed changes to the Employment Standards
Act ("Act"). The proposed changes relate
the statutory minimum wage;
employment protections for young
coverage under the Employment
The proposed changes would have the minimum wage indexed to
provincial inflation rates as opposed to Canadian inflation rates,
as this is thought to provide a better indication of changes to the
cost of living in New Brunswick, since the national rates reflect
price changes in other parts of the country where some goods have
Protections for Young Workers
Presently, individuals under the age of 16 are not permitted to
work in employment:
that is or is likely to be
unwholesome or harmful to the person's health, welfare or moral
or physical development;
for more than six hours per day;
for more than three hours on a school
between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.;
total hours spent at school and at
work must not exceed eight hours per day.
Individuals under the age of 14 are restricted from working in
The proposed changes would:
raise the pertinent age to 18 years
disallow exemptions to the rules
pertaining to youth workers;
increase the age of restrictions from
certain industries from under 14 to under 16;
require the written consent from a
parent or legal guardian to employ an individual under the age of
review the hourly restrictions;
review participation in artistic
performances to determine whether provision should be added for
performers under the age of 16.
The repeal of the exemptions provisions will result in no longer
having the flexibility in the system to consider a youth employment
situation which may involve exceptional circumstances. The
restrictions on the number of hours a person under the age of 16 is
permitted to work requires the difficult task of determining the
number of hours which is most likely to result in a balance between
work, life and school. It also has the potential to reduce income
upon which a youth and/or his or her family may rely.
Coverage under the Employment Standards Act
The government is seeking input with respect to three areas of
clarifying the employment
coverage for domestic workers and
persons working in a private home; and
coverage for long-term employees on
The potential changes to the definition of an employment
relationship are of particular interest. At present, there is
difficulty in classifying certain individuals as employees or
independent contractors. The Act specifically excludes an
independent contractor, but the current definition of
"employee" in the Act could equally describe the
role of an independent contractor in some circumstances.
The courts and labour boards have developed common law tests for
determining whether an employment relationship exists. While adding
the various factors which have been developed by the courts and
labour boards may provide a greater degree of certainty for
employers and workers, it could also lead to undue rigidity. In
addition, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to create a
legislated definition which would apply to all circumstances,
particularly in light of the fact-specific nature of any such
The New Brunswick government is accepting submissions from
interested parties with respect to these issues until October 7,
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