Legal News

New Job Protections for Reserve Force Members

A Bill amending the BC Employment Standards Act to provide statutory job protection to reserve force members of the Canadian Forces received Royal Assent, and came into force, on May 29, 2008. Similar legislation recently received Royal Assent by the Government of Canada but is not yet in force.

Bill 43, Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act (No. 2), 2008, permits a BC reservist employee to take a leave of absence without pay if the employee is deployed to a Canadian Forces operation outside Canada or to pre-deployment or post-deployment duties in connection with such an operation. The leave also extends to reservist employees who are deployed to a Canadian Forces operation inside Canada for the purpose of providing assistance in dealing with an emergency or its aftermath.

The reservist leave provisions apply to all provincial employers covered by the Act, regardless of size and require employers to provide leave for the prescribed period, or, if no period is prescribed, for the period which is necessary to accommodate the Canadian Forces operation. Employers are not, however, required to contribute to any benefit or pension plans during the leave period unless otherwise provided for in an employment contract or collective agreement.

In the federal sector, Bill C-40, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, the Canada Student Loans Act and the Public Service Employment Act, provides leave for a broader range of activities. Reservist employees are entitled to an unpaid leave of absence for a designated operation in Canada or abroad, as well as annual training or service in aid of a civil power. The leave also extends to the treatment, recovery or rehabilitation of mental or physical health problems resulting from such activities.

Federal employers are required to provide reservist leave unless the employee has not completed six months of consecutive employment or some lesser prescribed period which applies to certain classes of employees. Leave may also be denied if, in the opinion of the Minister, it would adversely affect public health or safety or would cause undue hardship to the employer. While on leave, the employee continues to accrue seniority and, for the purposes of calculating employment benefits, employment is deemed continuous.

Bill C-40 will be proclaimed in force by order of the Governor in Council. Please visit our website for further updates.