Bill 42: Towards a central portal in labour and employment

by Dentons

On April 15, 2015, the Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity tabled Bill 42 in the Québec National Assembly. The Bill is titled, An Act to group the Commission de l'équité salariale, the Commission des normes du travail and the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail and to establish the Administrative Labour Tribunal.

The purpose of this Bill is to reorganize a number of Quebec’s labour institutions, except for grievance arbitration. First of all, it establishes the Administrative Labour Tribunal (the Tribunal), which will assume the duties currently devolved on the Commission des lésions professionnelles (the CLP) and the Commission des relations du travail (the CRT).

Secondly, the Bill consolidates the activities of the Commission de l’équité salariale (the CES), of the Commission des normes du travail (the CNT) and of the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (the CSST) and brings them under the auspices of a single commission: the Commission des droits, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail.

The two new labour institutions, in succeeding their respective predecessors, will acquire their rights and powers, and assume their obligations.

The Tribunal will exercise its jurisdiction to the exclusion of all other tribunals or adjudicative bodies and will rule on matters brought under the provisions contemplated in An Act to group the Commission de l'équité salariale, the Commission des normes du travail and the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail and to establish the Administrative Labour Tribunal. In addition, it will also oversee the diligent and efficient application of the Labour Code,  as is presently done by the CRT. Essentially, the Tribunal will be vested with the same powers as the CRT and the CLP.

The Tribunal will have four divisions:

  1. the labour relations division;
  2. the essential services division;
  3. the construction industry and occupational qualification division; and
  4. the occupational health and safety division.

All matters will commence by filing an originating pleading with one of the Tribunal’s offices, in accordance with the provisions of Bill 42 and the rules of evidence and procedure to be adopted. Conciliation prior to a decision will still be a possibility, and the Tribunal’s authority to call the parties to a pre-hearing conference will be maintained.

As for the Commission des droits, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail, it will replace the CSST, the CES and the CNT. Accordingly, it will acquire the rights and assume the obligations of those three commissions.

Some other changes introduced by Bill 42 are worth highlighting:

  • The Labour Code stipulates that the CRT must provide its authorization before any of its decisions may be filed with the office of the clerk of the Superior Court for purposes of making the decision enforceable. This requirement for prior authorization is not carried over to Bill 42. A decision by the Tribunal will be enforceable according to the terms and conditions stated therein, and forced execution will be achieved by filing the decision with the office of the competent court without obtaining prior authorization from the Tribunal.
  • The Labour Code provision whereby an employee may file a complaint and ask to have his claim referred to arbitration based on negligent representation by his union will be amended.  Indeed, the Bill 42 broadens the scope of this provision, since the complaint will no longer be limited to instances where the employee is dismissed or subjected to a disciplinary sanction, or believes he is the victim of psychological harassment.
  • Disputes involving prevention and indemnification instituted before the Tribunal’s occupational health and safety division will no longer be heard before members of employer associations and labour associations. However, if the president of the Tribunal deems it expedient, he or she may assign assessors whose duties will be to sit with a member of the occupational health and safety division of the Tribunal and advise that member on questions of a medical, professional or technical nature.
  • In the event that an application for sharing the costs of benefits is made with respect to an employee who is already disabled when his employment injury manifests itself, the employee will be able to intervene before the Tribunal in such proceedings at any time.
  • The contribution rate of subject employers, as stipulated in the Regulation respecting contribution rates (in application of the Labour Standards Act), will be reduced from 0.08% to 0.07% of the subject remuneration.

On May 21, 2015, Bill 42 was deferred before the Commission de l’économie et du travail for a detailed review. Considering the amendments contemplated by Bill 42, it will be interesting to see its progress in the coming months.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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