Legal News

employment standards amendments in force in BC

Changes to British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act and Regulation come into effect on November 30, 2002. The changes, introduced earlier this year in Bill 48, the Employment Standards Amendment Act, include:

Mandatory penalties
Employers who violate employment standards will face escalating penalties ranging from $500 to $10,000. A penalty will be mandatory whenever the Employment Standards Branch issues a determination.

Flexibility in work hours
Employers and employees can agree to a work schedule under the 40-hour work week umbrella that averages hours over one, two, three or four weeks with an averaging agreement.

Overtime is payable for unscheduled extra hours worked in an averaging agreement, or if the employee works more than an average of 40 hours in a week.

Changes in overtime rules
Overtime is time-and-a-half after eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, and double-time after 12 hours worked in a day.

Statutory holiday pay
To be eligible for statutory holiday pay, a worker must have been employed for 30 calendar days and have worked or earned income on 15 of the previous 30 days. Employees who work under averaging agreements do not have to meet the 15-day minimum.

The policy continues for eligible employees who work on a statutory holiday. The employee must be paid time-and-a-half for the first 12 hours and double-time for working more than 12 hours. In addition to the statutory holiday pay, the employee must also receive a paid day off or an average day’s pay.

Employment Standards Regulation
Changes are also being made to the Employment Standards Regulation. They include the following:

  • Special overtime rules for sectors including agriculture, taxis, trucking, oil and gas exploration and silviculture are being changed to align with general rules. As with other employees in BC, workers in these industries will be paid time-and-a-half for weekly overtime.
  • Fish farm employees who work more than 35 hours per week are excluded from overtime and hours of work requirements so that tasks can be performed as needed.
  • Fish farm employees who are required to be on site 24 hours per day must have at least 12 hours of total rest and at least eight consecutive hours of rest every day.
  • A clearer definition of “manager” will include a person whose principal employment responsibilities consists of supervising or directing human or other resources. For example, employees with considerable responsibility for key assets of an organization can be recognized as having manager’s roles even though they do not supervise staff.
  • A new definition of “high-technology professional” is based on the nature of the work rather than specific job titles.
  • Other employees in high-technology companies will be able to enter into averaging agreements without fixed work schedules.
    Sales commissions can be used to meet overtime and statutory holiday pay requirements as long as employees are paid at least what they would have earned at their base wage rate. For example, a salesperson normally paid $9 per hour plus commission would have to be paid as though he had earned at least $13.50 per hour for working on a statutory holiday. In addition, the salesperson is entitled to an average day’s pay or a paid day off.
  • Certain “high-end commission salespeople” are excluded from most rules governing hours of work, overtime and statutory holiday pay. This includes people who sell or lease automobiles, trucks, motor homes and heavy industrial equipment.
  • Truck drivers who usually work within 160 kilometres of home base will be subject to the same overtime rules as federally regulated short-haul drivers. Short-haul drivers will be paid time-and-a-half after nine hours worked in a day or 45 hours in a week.