Modern Federal Labour Standards: An update on recent and recommended changes

Issues
In December 2019, the Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards released 39 recommendations that could affect federally regulated workplaces, and Prime Minister Trudeau gave the federal Minister of Labour an ambitious mandate. In this session, experts will provide an update on the status of recent amendments to legislation affecting federally regulated workplaces, discuss the Expert Panel’s report, and identify what important changes lie ahead for unions and employers in the federally regulated public and private sectors.
• How do recent amendments to the Canada Labour Code affect work scheduling and flexible work arrangements in federally regulated workplaces? Have employers or unions encountered any difficulty adapting to these changes?
• How are workplace parties responding to new obligations regarding workplace violence and harassment? Are elements of the Bill C-65 amendments to the Canada Labour Code or the Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations — for example, prescribed timelines or requirements for the appointment of investigators — likely to pose difficulties for employers or unions?
• What new obligations do federally regulated employers have regarding employment equity and accessibility?
• Why was the Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards created? How did the Panel arrive at its conclusions and recommendations? Which of the Panel’s recommendations has the government already acted on? What other recommendations does the government seem receptive to? Which recommendations appear to be “dead in the water”?
• Why did the panel recommend against creating a statutory right to disconnect at this time? Why has the Minister of Labour been mandated to develop new Canada Labour Code provisions establishing such a right?
• What recommendations did the Panel make regarding collective voice for non-unionized workers? How have these recommendations been received by employers and unions? Is anything likely to come of these recommendations?
• What are the Panel’s key recommendations regarding protections for workers in non-standard work, access to benefits, and portability? Are some of the recommendations more likely to be implemented now that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the precariousness of many workers and the public health rationale for increased access to paid time off and income replacement benefits?
• What steps, if any, has the federal Minister of Labour taken to fulfill her mandate to “include mental health as a specific element of occupational health and safety”? Might the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace become a legal obligation rather than a voluntary standard?