Humaniqa HR Blog

Flexible Work Arrangements April 16 2018

Purpose:  The purpose of the HR Minute is to provide clients with timely information about human resources issues.  Please take a moment to read this important information.

Although not mandated by employment legislation, many employers have recognized the benefits of approving requests for flexible work arrangements.  Of course, being accommodating and implementing a practice of flexible arrangements can improve morale, increase retention and ultimately, improve effectiveness and efficiency.  On the other hand, some employers remain hesitant about flexible work arrangements as it is difficult to track an employee’s time, it creates scheduling conflicts, and it requires an adjustment to a new management style which requires trust.

As defined by the Government of Canada, “flexible work arrangements allow employees to alter, on a temporary or permanent basis, their work schedule, the number of hours they work or the location where they do their work, or to take leave from work to meet responsibilities outside of work.” Flexible work arrangements can be implemented in several different ways such as flex-time, compressed workweeks, part-time scheduling, job sharing or shift work.  Before approving requests, employers should be mindful of the impact the arrangement(s) will have on the organization.  For example, employers should ensure that opportunities are available to all employees and free from prejudice or discrimination.  

Despite an organization’s best efforts, some employees may be negatively impacted more than other groups based on several circumstances.  In order to mitigate any claim of discriminatory practice, employers should ensure they evaluate each request on a case-by-case basis along with clear policies and careful documentation. Agreements should always be in writing and include a start and end date, a list of the changes that will take effect, as well as signatures from both parties.

Upcoming Changes to the Canada Labour Code

The Government of Canada hopes to make significant changes to legislation in order to accelerate the trend toward flexible schedules.  In recent discussions, the Government has expressed its commitment to amend the Canada Labour Code with plans to provide employees the right to request flexible work arrangements from their employers. 

Under Bill C-63, Budget Implementation Act, 2017 employers will have to provide a bona fide reason as to why they decide not to grant the leave as well as other exceptions.  Other countries, such as Australia and the UK, have already granted their employees similar rights.

The Government has only recently begun discussions in earnest. For now, employers will simply have to await further deliberation.  We will continue to report on this trend as it develops.

For a sample flexible work arrangement policy, please visit the Policy Library in the Resource Centre tab of our website. To view Bill C-63 and other related federal legislation, please visit the Laws tab.

Date: April, 2018


Bill C-65: Canada Labour Code’s New Harassment Framework March 14 2018

Purpose: The purpose of the HR Minute is to provide clients with timely information about human resources issues. Please take a moment to read this important information.

Introduced in November 2017, the federal government is currently reviewing Bill C-65, which, if passed into law, would present some important amendments to the Canada Labour Code’s standards and process around workplace violence and harassment, including sexual harassment and violence.

Bill C-65 would also ensure the application of those same provisions to parliamentary and political staff, governed by the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act (“PESRA”).

Proposed Changes to the Canada Labour Code

If passed, Bill C-65 would expand a number of provisions in Part II, Occupational Health and Safety. Some of the proposed changes include:

  • New federal regulations surrounding the obligation for federal employers to take measures against and respond to harassment in the workplace. Employers would be required to investigate, record, and report all “accidents, occurrences of harassment or violence, occupational illnesses and other hazardous occurrences known to the employer.”
  • The inclusion of “psychological injuries” and “psychological illnesses” as consequences of abuse, instead of focusing on physical injury.
  • A new complaint reporting structure that would forward unresolved harassment or violence complaints directly to the attention of the Minister of Employment for investigation.
  • New rules and guidelines regarding the complainant’s right to privacy; specifically, which employer agents are able to participate in an investigation without the employee’s explicit consent.

Proposed Changes to the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act

Presently, no legislative occupational health and safety standards apply to employees of the House of Commons, the Senate, the Library of Parliament, the Parliamentary Protective Service, or the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Bill C-65 would expressly provide for the application of the majority of the Code’s Occupational Health and Safety provisions to those employees and individuals who are not employees but are performing activities, the primary purpose of which is to enable the person to acquire knowledge and experience.

Takeaways

Being that this is a federal amendment, it applies chiefly to employees working in the public sector. However, the bill will likely serve as a valuable guide for employers of all jurisdictions.

Federally-regulated employers, including those covered by the PESRA, should consider whether Bill C-65’s proposed changes require an examination or revision of current policies and practices on workplace violence or harassment.

As of the time of writing, Bill C-65 is currently being read in committee and could be subject to further amendment. We will continue to report on this story as it develops; keep an eye on our website for updates.

Date: March, 2018