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SASKATCHEWAN GOVERNMENT INTRODUCES NEW EMPLOYMENT LEGISLATION

Released on December 4, 2012

The Saskatchewan Employment Act will be introduced in the Legislative Assembly this afternoon. This Act consolidates labour legislation from twelve Acts into one updated and comprehensive Act.

"The new Saskatchewan Employment Act clearly defines the rights and responsibilities of employees, employers and unions," Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan said. "The new Act will improve Saskatchewan's labour legislation to better protect workers, promote growth and increase accountability."

The new Act will contain provisions that include:

  • Indexation of the minimum wage to provide security for minimum wage earners and ensure predictability for business owners in the province;
  • Legislation to protect individuals searching for work from mistreatment and fraud perpetrated by unscrupulous 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 per day for five days per week or 10 hours per day for four days per week. 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 employees 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 employees 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; and
  • Recognition that no individual or group may be compensated differently on the grounds of any prohibition identified within The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

The following provisions have been maintained in The Saskatchewan Employment Act:

  • Statutory holidays will be maintained at 10 per year;
  • Vacation entitlements will continue to be three weeks per year for the first nineyears of service and after completing 10 years of service will increase to four weeks per year;
  • The 40 hour work week will be maintained. Overtime is to be paid for work after eight hours in a day and 40 hours in a week unless a permit or modified work arrangement exists;
  • An employee can refuse to work hours in excess of 44 hours in a week;
  • Lay-off notice requirements are maintained at one weeks notice for 13 weeks to one year of service to a maximum of eight weeks notice for 10 or more years of service;
  • Notice requirements for group termination are maintained;
  • The requirement to belong to the union where a union has been certified as the bargaining agent is maintained;
  • The current exemption from belonging to the union on religious grounds is maintained;
  • Secret ballot votes to ensure workers can express true wishes without fear of reprisal is maintained;
  • The ability of employers to communicate directly with employees on any labour relations matter is maintained;
  • Employers will continue to collect and remit dues upon the union's and employee's request;
  • Picketing activities will remain at the discretion of the Courts;
  • The unfair labour practices provisions are maintained; and
  • The collective bargaining processes in The Police Act, 1990 and The Education Act, 1995 will be maintained in the respective pieces of legislation. The parties will have access to the enhanced tools for settlement of disputes contained in The Saskatchewan Employment Act.

The Public Service Essential Services Act is not included in the legislation. The Act includes a placeholder section to be used when the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal provides guidance on how essential services should be delivered in Saskatchewan.

"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."

Morgan said the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety received more than 3,800 submissions in response to its consultation paper.

"I'm pleased to say that the consultations played an integral role in the development of the new legislation by allowing stakeholders a voice in the process," Morgan said. "Stakeholder feedback and the input of the Minister's Advisory Committee were invaluable in determining the scope and content of the legislation."

The ministry is inviting feedback on provisions of the Bill from now until March 1, 2013. Interested parties can send feedback in response to the provisions of the Bill by email to labourlegislationLRWS@gov.sk.ca or in writing to LRWS 300-1870 Albert Street, Regina, SK S4P 4W1.

For more information on these changes and how they affect Saskatchewan workers and employers, visit http://www.lrws.gov.sk.ca/modernizing-legislation.

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For more information, contact:

Richelle Bourgoin
Labour Relations and Workplace Safety
Regina
Phone: 306-787-8153
Email: richelle.bourgoin@gov.sk.ca

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