As other provinces are moving to increase the minimum wage and improve employment standards, the BC government is looking into changing our employment standards but not in the way that you'd expect.
It was just announced that Quebec's minimum wage is increasing from $12 to $12.50 today. While we're not getting any wage increases just yet, the BC government has introduced new legislation that should improve employment standards in BC.
Specifically, the government is attempting to change BC's Employment Standards Act. Labour Minister Harry Bains introduced new legislation that if passed, will alter the Employment Standards Act. Bains hopes to bring back basic rights and provide job security to those British Columbians that are in dire need of it.
The amendments that were introduced on Monday, April 29 centre around victims of violence, protecting child workers, those caring for critically-ill and modernizing the employment standards system.
One of the biggest changes is aimed at protecting children in the workforce. Bains proposes to raise the age that children can start working from 12-years-old to 16-years-old. There will also be restrictions on the type of work that they can do. The new laws will ensure that children are only working doing "light duty work" and not working in any hazardous environments.
Other young children have previously been reported to work in film or the entertainment industry as children, but they must have permission from their parents.
The bill also proposes that those who are suffering from violence will get up to 10 days of unpaid leave, for which they can't be fired for. Another option would allow these workers up to 15 weeks of consecutive leave. The government wants to help those who are fleeing from domestic violence because currently, there isn't a system implemented to help protect job security of those who are trying to escape abuse.
According to VIA, the proposed changes will provide up to 10 non-consecutive days of unpaid job-protected leaves for workers who are escaping domestic abuse. They may need to suddenly take time off if they're fleeing to a new home to protect their children or attending medical appointments or examinations.
Another major change is that Bains plans to create a new regulation system surrounding servers and their tips. The new system will help servers receive protection by adding more regulation around tips and tip pooling. The government also wants to forbid employers from withholding tips from employees, deducting from them or requiring the tips to be turned over to their employers.
Finally, the new legislation will offer protection to those who are taking care of critically ill family members. This new proposal will offer a new unpaid job-protected leave of absence for Canadians that need to take time off to help their loved ones.
Similar to the new proposal to help those fleeing violence, British Columbians that need to take a leave of absence from work currently do not have job security and many have been fired or let go due to these unpredictable absences.
Bains' press release specifically states that they hope to bring back "basic rights and protections that were gutted by the old government." Bains is referring to the last time the Employment Standards Act was updated back in 2003 by the Gordon Campbell government.