On April 30, 2019, the British Columbia government introduced Bill 30, Labour Relations Code Amendment Act, 2019 in the British Columbia Legislative Assembly.
Bill 30 follows the recommendations set out in Recommendations for Amendments to the Labour Relations Code (the "Labour Relations Code Report"), a government-commissioned report from an independent panel which recommended certain changes to the Labour Relations Code (the "Code"), where the report was delivered to the government in August 2018 and released publicly in October 2018. We have previously blogged about the Labour Relations Code Report.
Notably, Bill 30 contains the following proposed amendments to the Code:
- The curtailment of employer free speech
- Bill 30 amends section 8 of the Code, which currently permits employers to express "views on any matter, including matters relating to an employer, a trade union or the representation of employees by a trade union, provided that the person does not use intimidation or coercion", to permit only the "freedom to communicate to an employee a statement of fact or opinion reasonably held with respect to the employer's business". This change would reduce the scope of permissible employer speech and revert the law to what was permissible prior to 2002.
- Keeping a secret ballot for certification votes
- Following the recommendation in the Labour Relations Code Report, Bill 30 does not propose any change to provisions concerning the secret ballot for certification votes.
- A shortened timeline for the certification vote
- Bill 30 proposes that the time period between an application for union certification and the certification vote be reduced from 10 days to 5 days (excluding holidays and weekends).
- A lessened evidentiary burden on unions seeking remedial certification
- Bill 30 provides the Labour Relations Board with remedial authority to order certification of a trade union where an employer has interfered in a union drive by committing certain unfair labour practices, without requiring evidence that the union likely would have obtained the requisite support but for the employer's conduct. If this provision becomes law, we expect a significant increase in unfair labour practice complaints during organization drives as unions may attempt certification on this basis even if they lose the vote.
- An extension to the statutory freeze period
- Bill 30 proposes that the current statutory freeze period after certification of a trade union, during which time an employer may not alter pay or terms of employment, be extended from 4 months to 12 months.
- A change to the definition of picketing
- Bill 30 amends the definition of "picketing" under the Code in a manner that is intended to make the definition in the Codecompliant with the current law set out by the Supreme Court of Canada.
- Successor obligations for contractors
- Bill 30 provides that, if a contract for services is retendered and substantially similar services continued to be performed, in whole or in part, under the direction of another contractor, the contractor is bound by the collective agreement in force in respect of the contract for services as well as any proceedings under the Code before the date that the new contractor adopts the contract for services. “Contract for services” is defined to include a contract in respect of, inter alia, building cleaning services, security services, and food services.
- No change to current rules regarding the use of replacement workers
- Following the recommendation in the Labour Relations Code Report, Bill 30 proposes no change to the rules limiting employers’ use of replacement workers during a strike or lockout.
Note that Bill 30 may be subject to revision prior to being passed into law by the Legislative Assembly.
Lawson Lundell's Labour, Employment, and Human Rights Group will continue to monitor developments in respect of Bill 30 and any changes to British Columbia's labour law. Stayed tuned – updates will be posted on our blog.
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