Sask. government overhauling labour laws
Published Tuesday, December 4, 2012 8:05AM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 4, 2012 7:14PM CST
Saskatchewan’s labour laws will be overhauled after the government introduced new legislation Tuesday.
The Saskatchewan Employment Act consolidates 12 existing pieces of labour legislation into a single omnibus bill.
Labour Minister Don Morgan says the new legislation clearly defines the rights and responsibilities of employees, employers and unions.
“The new act will improve Saskatchewan’s labour legislation to better protect workers, promote growth and increase accountability,” Morgan said in a news release.
New provisions in the Saskatchewan Employment Act include:
• Indexation of the minimum wage to provide more security for minimum wage earners and create predictability for business owners
• Legislation to protect individuals searching for work from mistreatment and fraud by recruitment service providers
• The requirement for unions to provide audited financial statements and the results of votes to their members
• While maintaining the 40 hour work week, two work arrangements will be permitted in the legislation – eight hours a day for five days a week or 10 hours a day for four days a week. The government says this is consistent with other jurisdictions in Western Canada
• Introduction of two new leave provisions – organ donation and leave to attend citizenship ceremonies
• Clarification of the definition of employee to exclude those workers whose duties are confidential or managerial
• A definition of supervisory employee that would restrict a supervisor from belonging to the same bargaining unit as those they supervise
• The ability of employers or workers to decertify a union that has been inactive for three or more years
• Following an unsuccessful application to decertify a union, employees can apply to decertify the union again after waiting 12 months
• Changing the ability for a union to fine a member for crossing a picket line, to be consistent with other Canadian jurisdictions
• Reduction of the qualification period for maternity, parental and adoption leave from 20 weeks to 13 weeks of service
• Recognition that no individual or group may be compensated differently on the grounds of any prohibition identified within The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
Saskatchewan’s contentious Public Service Essential Services Act isn’t included in the new bill, as the government is appealing a court ruling that says the act is unconstitutional.
However, the new legislation includes a placeholder section for when a decision is handed down by the province’s Court of Appeal.
In February, Justice Dennis Ball suspended his ruling for a year to allow the government to make changes to the law.
The province has asked that the deadline be extended while it awaits a decision on its appeal of the ruling.
If the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal decides to let the suspension on the ruling expire in early February, it would leave little time for the government to pass new legislation.
“Our government remains committed to the principle of protecting essential public services like health care and highway safety in the event of a strike,” Morgan said.
“We will await the direction of the court before deciding on our next steps in this important matter.”
He says the more than 3,800 submissions the government received during consultations helped to shape the scope and content of the new omnibus bill.
The public can provide feedback on the new bill from now until March 1. Submissions can be sent by email to labourlegislationLRWS@gov.sk.ca or in writing to LRWS 300-1879 Albert Street, Regina, SK S4P 4W1.