On May 24, 2022, Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the
official and common language of Québec (Bill 96), which
amends the Charter of the French Language (Charter), was
adopted by Quebec's National Assembly. Certain provisions of
Bill 96 are already in force, with additional requirements taking
effect over the coming months or years.
In this bulletin, we provide an overview of the upcoming obligations that will be incumbent on employers in Quebec.
As noted in our May 2022 Blakes Bulletin: New French Language
Requirements for Employers: Are You Ready?, since June 1,
2022, employers subject to the Charter are required to provide in
French, or simultaneously in both French and another language, all
individual employment contracts that are contracts of adhesion
(i.e., a contract whose essential provisions may not be negotiated
by the employee) and are in writing. This requirement applies to
not only individual employment contracts, but also their schedules,
which may include, as applicable, non-disclosure and IP assignment
agreements and agreements pertaining to employee commitments.
Employees governed by individual employment contracts that are in a language other than French prior to June 1, 2022, have until June 1, 2023, to ask their employer for a French version. Employers must ensure employees receive the French translation of their contracts as soon as possible and bear the related costs. This requirement does not apply to fixed-term contracts of employment entered into before June 1, 2022, and expiring no later than June 1, 2024.
Other Employment-Related Documents
Similarly, as of June 1, 2022, Bill 96 requires employers
subject to the Charter to provide employees and job applicants with
documents, in French, that relate to conditions of employment
(e.g., employee manuals, psychological harassment policies and any
other employer policies), employment application forms and staff
For documents belonging to these categories that were available in a language other than French prior to June 1, 2022, employers will have a grace period of 12 months following such date to make the French version of these documents available to their employees. Throughout this grace period, employers may continue to make these documents available in the other language. However, as of June 1, 2023, all documents pertaining to conditions of employment, as well as application forms and training documents intended for staff, must be available in French.
As of June 1, 2023, all commercial contracts that are not subject to the Charter and deemed to be contracts of adhesion must be drawn up in French or provided simultaneously in French and another language (in the same document or separate documents). A contract of adhesion arises when one party decides on or drafts the essential terms of a contract without the involvement of the other party. Private contracts, which are not contracts of adhesion, may be drawn up in French or another language. As such, service contracts with independent contractors (e.g., self-employed individuals) or consultants fall under these provisions of the Charter.
The Charter provides that when an enterprise reaches the
50-employee threshold in Quebec for a period of six months
(threshold date), it becomes subject to francization requirements
under which it must, among other things, register with the Office
québécois de la langue française (OQLF) within
six months of the threshold date. The OQLF then conducts an audit
to assess whether the use of French is sufficiently generalized
throughout the enterprise's business activities. If the
enterprise meets this requirement, the OQLF will issue it a
francization certificate. Should the audit determine otherwise, the
enterprise will be required to implement a francization program to
remedy the situation.
Bill 96 provides that on June 1, 2025, the aforementioned employee threshold will be lowered from 50 to 25. As such, the updated francization obligations will apply to a greater number of employers in Quebec.
As the changes noted above are set to take effect over the coming months and may require employers to significantly update their current policies and practices, employers should review their internal operations expeditiously to ensure compliance with these new legal obligations.
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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.