The BC Government Announces Proposed Changes to the Employment Standards Act for Families

 

Dear AAPS Members,
 

Recently Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, introduced amendments to the BC Employment Standards Act in support of working families. These changes will align the Act with federal changes to Employment Insurance (EI) and bring BC in line with other provinces.

If approved by the legislature, these amendments will provide AAPS members and all British Columbians with more flexibility regarding maternity, parental, and compassionate care leaves. You can read the press release.

We have heard from many of you that you need more flexibility in your workplace to deal with family changes and challenges. We think these amendments are a good first step by the Provincial government. We encourage you to reach out to your MLA and let them know that you are in favour of the amendments to the Employment Standards Act. You can find a listing for MLAs by postal code here.

“I am proud that our government recognizes that no one should fear for their job while they are taking care of their loved ones.” – Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equality.

 

Details on the proposed new and extended leaves and the impact on your Collective Agreement:

  • When the extended 18-month EI for maternity /parental leave becomes part of the BC Employment Standards Act, you will be entitled to the full 18-month maternity/parental leave. This will include benefits for the full leave.
  • BC is aligning the Employment Standards Act with federal legislation that allows for EI coverage for up to 27 weeks for Compassionate Care Leave. When this becomes part of the Employment Standards Act, UBC cannot deny this leave, and you will be able to come back to your job.
  • BC is taking a leadership role along with Ontario in introducing up to 104 weeks of unpaid leave if your child under the age of 19 dies. When this becomes part of the Employment Standards Act, UBC cannot deny this leave, and you will be able to come back to your job.
  • BC is aligning itself with the rest of Canada in introducing 52 weeks of unpaid leave if your child is missing as a result of a crime. When this becomes part of the Employment Standards Act, UBC cannot deny this leave, and you will be able to come back to your job.

Once these amendments become part of the BC Employment Standards Act, UBC will be required to comply.

We would prefer to see UBC take a leadership role in supporting families in the workplace. One place they can do this is through the bargaining process. We encourage you to consider how these and other leave related changes may improve your workplace in preparation for collective bargaining.

  • Does the Collective Agreement adequately address the needs of members for taking time away from the workplace to care for loved ones?
  • Is there additional or clarifying language needed in the Collective Agreement to support different kinds of family structures?
  • While new legislation will give members the security to return to their jobs after a leave, the lack of just cause protection under Article 9 means you could possibly be released when you return to work through no fault of your own. How do we strengthen the language in the Collective Agreement so members have real job security to take care of themselves and their love ones in difficult circumstances?

We hope that you will support the Provincial government’s efforts to make taking time away from the workplace more feasible for working families.

Also, if these issues are important to you, we also hope that you will consider how they might impact bargaining. You can send us your bargaining feedback here.

 

Sincerely,

Joey Hansen, Executive Director