Legal News

Amendments to British Columbia’s Labour Relations Code pass first reading

The Labour Relations Code Amendment Act (Bill 30) introduced on first reading on April 30, 2019. Bill 30 follows the October 25, 2018 release of the Labour Relations Code Review Panel’s report, which made 29 recommendations for amendments to the Labour Relations Code (“Code”). Bill 30 in large part adopts these recommendations.

Notable changes proposed by Bill 30 include:

  • requiring the Minister of Labour (“Minister”) to appoint a committee of special advisors to review the Code, conduct consultations,and make recommendations at least every five years (section 3);
  • reverting to pre-2002 language concerning the right to communicate. This has the effect of limiting employer free speech during certification campaigns to facts or opinions reasonably held with respect to the employer’s business. (section 8);
  • while the requirements for secret ballot votes on certification and decertification have been maintained, certification and decertification votes must be taken within 5 business days of the application, which is a reduction from the present language of 10 days;
  • where there are 2 or more years remaining in the term of a collective agreement and there is a change in union representation, the new union can apply to the Labour Relations Board for an order that declares that collective agreement to expire in 90 days, thereby providing the new union with an opportunity to begin collective bargaining (section 27.1);
  • expanding successorship provisions so that a successorship applies to certain types of service contracts (building cleaning, security, bus transportation, food services, non-clinical services in the health sector and other prescribed services) even though the new contractor has bid on the work through an arms length bid tender process. (section 35);
  • expanding the period by which an employer is restricted from altering the terms and conditions of bargaining unit members’ employment from 4 months after certification or the execution of a new collective agreement to 12 months (section 45);
  • requiring case management for arbitrations within 30 days of the appointment of an arbitration board (section 88.1); and
  • increasing the fine imposed on a party who neglects or refuses to observe or carry out an order made under the Code from $1000 to $5000 for individuals, and from $10,000 to $50,000 for corporations, trade unions or employers’ organizations(section 158).

Bill 30 must go through two more readings before it can receive Royal Assent and become law. Therefore, although the first reading of Bill 30 gives us a general idea of what the new amendments to the Code will be, changes to Bill 30 may still occur. Stay tuned.