The spring session of the British Columbia legislature recently ended, and both the Employment Standards Amendment Act and the Labour Relations Code Amendment Act were proclaimed into law. These two acts represent the most significant changes to employment and labour legislation in two decades and all British Columbia employers should be aware of the impact on their businesses.
Bill 18 – Workers Compensation Amendment Act 2019, which proposes to expand the definition of 'firefighter' under the Workers Compensation Act for the purpose of presumptions in favour of compensation for firefighters, has passed its third reading in the British Columbia Legislature. In addition, the second reading of Bill 8 – Employment Standards Amendment Act 2019 has been held, providing additional details around some of the government's proposed amendments to the act.
The British Columbia government recently introduced Bill 8 – Employment Standards Amendment Act which, for the first time in more than 15 years, has introduced significant changes to the Employment Standards Act. For employers, the most significant amendments include the requirement that all of the main components of collective agreements 'meet or exceed' the corresponding parts of the act and the extension of the period for which employees can recover owed wages.
Employers are entitled to require employees to visit in-house occupational health department physicians to obtain reasonably necessary medical information if that right is provided for in their collective agreement. This was recently confirmed when an arbitrator found that an employer had not violated employee privacy rights when it required employees to visit in-house occupational health department physicians to confirm eligibility for wage loss protection benefits.