Legal News

Amendments to Employment Standards Act and Workers Compensation Act pass Third Reading

Bill 37, the Skills Development and Labour Statutes Amendment Act, which contains amendments to the BC Employment Standards Act and Workers Compensation Act, passed Third Reading on October 8, 2003. The amendments will come into force at a later date by Regulation.

Amendments to Employment Standards Act

The amendments that will be made to the Employment Standards Act include:

Youth Employment

  • Employers will no longer require a permit from the Director of Employment Standards to employ young people between the ages of 12 to 15. Only parental consent will be required.
  • To employ children under 12 years of age, employers will still need to obtain the Director’s permission.
  • Employers will have to prove a child’s age and obtain parental permission before the child’s employment starts.
  • Employers who violate these rules will face penalties of $500, $2500 and $10,000.


  • Protection of Minimum Wage: Employers will be prohibited from using earnings from one pay period to top up another pay period in which the employee does not earn the minimum wage. For example, if a commissioned salesperson does not have any earnings in a pay period, he or she will be entitled to be paid at least minimum wage for that period. The employer will not be able to use earnings from another pay period to make up the difference.
  • Time Bank: There will no longer be a 6 month limit on overtime wages that can be credited to an employee’s time bank. An employer will be able to close an employee’s time bank with notice, and will be required to deal with the overtime wages credited to that time bank within 6 months of closing it.
  • Liability for unpaid wages: The amendment clarifies that liability for unpaid wages extends to a director or officer of an associated corporation, firm syndicate or association under s. 95 of the Act.

New Rules for Dealing With Determinations and Appeals

  • A new 30 day time limit will be introduced, for the Director to vary or cancel a determination that has been appealed.
  • A person appealing a determination will be required to provide the Employment Standards Tribunal with the Director’s written reasons for the determination.
  • If an appeal is successful, the Tribunal may send a matter back to the original panel, or refer it to another panel.

Director’s Powers

  • The Director will no longer be able to authorize an assignment of wages.
  • The Director will be allowed to treat associated entities as one employer under the Act.

Amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act

The amendments that will be made to the Workers’ Compensation Act include:

  • Monthly benefits will be provided for life to surviving partners of deceased workers, including those without children. The benefits will be based on a portion of the monthly benefit the deceased worker would have received for a permanent total disability, with the percentage increasing according to the survivor’s age.
  • The age at which benefits for dependent children terminate will be increased, to 19 years from 18 years for children not attending school, and to 25 years from 21 years, for children in school.
  • Surviving dependants will be allowed to retain 50% of their Canada Pension Plan survivor benefits instead of losing 100%. A surviving partner will keep his/her own Canada Pension Plan retirement benefit rather than having it deducted from their WCB benefit.
  • Lay advocates will be expressly permitted to advise or act on behalf of employers and employees.