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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — A panel of labour and enterprise representatives has advisable greater than 100 modifications to the province’s labour legal guidelines, together with a course of that will see predictable yearly will increase to minimal wages that exceed the speed of inflation.
The four-member panel, chaired by HR skilled Andrew Thompson, was tasked with conducting a overview of the Employment Requirements Act within the fall of 2021. Two years later, the ensuing report was tabled within the legislature on Nov. 16 by Minister of Workforce Jenn Redmond.
The suggestions cowl numerous working circumstances, together with paid sick go away, minimal wages, seasonal staff and time beyond regulation pay.
P.E.I.’s minimal wage rose to $15 on Oct. 1, a rise of 9.5 per cent from its earlier degree of $13.70 as of April 2022. Yearly will increase are advisable by an identical labour-business panel however this panel has advisable a extra predictable system for minimal wage will increase every year to permit employers to foretell their yearly prices.
The Employment Requirements Act overview panel advisable a three-pronged method to setting yearly will increase.
The primary prong known as for a yearly enhance on the price of inflation plus one per cent. The panel mentioned this may enable minimal wage earners to “share in financial progress that exceeds inflation.”
The second prong of this method would contain a overview by a board of will increase each two years, which might take into account poverty ranges and the expansion of the financial system. Cupboard would then make the ultimate choices on the board’s suggestions.
The panel additionally advisable shortening the size of a full-time work week in P.E.I. from 48 hours to 44 hours. At present, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia are tied as the 2 provinces with the longest full-time work week earlier than employers are required to pay wage staff an time beyond regulation price.
The panel additionally advisable requiring employers to grant unpaid go away to staff who’re receiving gender-affirming medical care or for these taking an oath of citizenship.
Paid sick go away
The panel additionally known as for a rise in paid sick go away for staff from in the future to 3 days per 12 months for staff who’ve stayed on the similar job for 5 years.
At present, Island employers are solely required to supply in the future of paid sick go away and solely after a employee has remained in the identical job for 5 years. Most panelists advisable requiring in the future of paid sick go away after a 12 months of employment however the panel’s report famous this was the one problem for which the four-member panel was unable to succeed in consensus.
The COVID-19 pandemic has secured the problem of paid sick days as one of many extra contentious labour points in Canada.
The panel additionally advisable that labour commonplace exemptions be maintained for farm labourers, salespersons and residential care staff.
At present, farm labourers, dwelling care staff and salespersons who depend on commissions are exempted from protections that enable time beyond regulation pay after a full-time workweek. House care workers who care for youngsters, the aged and individuals with disabilities are additionally exempted from minimal wage provisions.
The panel offered few particulars on its rationale for the differential rights for these classifications of staff. Non permanent overseas employee advocates have argued that the exemptions of farm labourers have made migrant staff susceptible to exploitation.
Whereas the panel advisable sustaining the exceptions, it advisable transferring the authorized statutes exempting these staff to rules set by cupboard. It additionally advisable a “clear utility, session and approval course of” be described within the Act for exempted courses of staff.
“There are way more suggestions than we had anticipated. However we’re dedicated to make sure that we are able to present that (rewritten) Act and be sure that we’ve got that balanced workforce for P.E.I.” – Jenn Redmond, minister of workforce
In an interview, Redmond mentioned her division agreed with the suggestions. However she mentioned the sheer variety of suggestions would require a big overhaul of labour legal guidelines within the province.
She didn’t present a timeline for the way lengthy these modifications would take.
“There are way more suggestions than we had anticipated. However we’re dedicated to make sure that we are able to present that (rewritten) Act and be sure that we’ve got that balanced workforce for P.E.I.,” Redmond mentioned.
Each the Liberal and Inexperienced events have launched payments within the legislature that will enhance the variety of paid sick days required to 5 per 12 months.
Redmond acknowledged that these two personal members’ payments didn’t align with the panel’s suggestions.
“We’re nonetheless working and hoping to work with these Home leaders to return to a typical floor that is in one of the best pursuits of each workers and employers,” she mentioned when requested in regards to the Opposition payments.
Stu Neatby is a political reporter with SaltWire in Prince Edward Island. He might be reached by e mail at [email protected] and adopted on X @stu_neatby.