ComplianceScheduling & Workforce Management

Updated Labor Laws Affecting Canada’s Scheduling Practices

Beautiful Picture Of Ottawa in Canada

If you’re a Canadian employer, you’re already aware of the numerous workplace law changes that went into effect this past January. But are you aware of the true impact particular updates have on how you schedule your employees?

Three provinces—Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec—have experienced major changes in their shift scheduling practices due to the recent ordinances. We broke them down province by province and offered some advice for how you should be adjusting, if you haven’t already.

It’s never too late to uncover opportunities that improve efficiencies or achieve cost savings.

Ontario’s Modified Scheduling Provisions

After the repeal of Bill 148, a modified scheduling rule took effect January 1, 2019. Any employee who regularly works more than three hours a day but ends up working less than those three hours (after being required to show up for work and despite being available to work longer) must be paid wages for the full three hours.

The employee will either be paid (a) three hours of pay at the employee’s regular rate or (b) the sum of the amount that the employee earned while working, plus the remaining time calculated at the employee’s regular rate—whichever entitlement is the greater of the two.

The rule will not apply where the employer is unable to provide work due to causes beyond the employer’s control, like a fire, inclement weather, or other circumstances that expectantly stop work. Rather than put the employer at fault for volatile situations that are out of their hands, the ordinance is put in place to protect the employee from scheduling inconveniences (i.e. a lost day’s work) that are in the employer’s control. Similar to Ward v Tilly’s verdict in California, Ontario’s scheduling provisions are put in place to prevent overscheduling.

The rule translates to this: if you want to both improve employee morale and stop losing money on reporting time pay that could have been prevented, you need to staff to match only what you need.

This requires that you accurately project your work order or demand needs and schedule accordingly. You can achieve this with automated scheduling that has your real-time labor needs integrated at the point of creating the shift schedule.

When the scheduler is able to quickly assess what their spread looks like with real-time labor updates, they can proactively control for any gaps (or remove people from an overcrowded shift before the schedule is finalized). With automated scheduling, on-call shifts will be a thing of the past because they won’t be necessary. In turn, you are protected from having to relieve an employee after one hour of work due to overstaffing.

Alberta’s Eliminated Compressed Workweek Rules

An employer’s ability to implement compressed workweeks, in which employees could work fewer work days in the work week but more than eight hours per day without getting overtime pay, has been eliminated.

Employers must now obtain employee consent to enter an “averaging agreement”, with overtime being allocated after a certain point. Scheduled daily hours cannot exceed 12 hours per day. There are two types of averaging agreements. The hours of work averaging agreement allows employers to average an employee’s hours of work over a period of up to 12 weeks. The flexible averaging agreement limits to two weeks.

Overtime is then calculated one of two ways; whichever process amounts to more money.

  • 8 hours a day (if scheduled for less than eight hours) or daily scheduled hours (if eight or more hours were scheduled)
  • 44 hours a week (over a one-week averaging period) or an average of 44 hours a week (over a multi-week averaging period)

Just like with Ontario, limiting the scheduling flexibility employers have means that you need to make sure you are only staffed to meet demand. Now that employees need to be given OT even with a “compressed” (now “averaged”) schedule, employers in Alberta need to make sure that they are managing and controlling their OT distribution.

Automated workforce management can drive total overtime costs down by 19%. This is because automation provides visibility into hours worked, while centralizing communication for overtime requests makes it easier for your complex scheduling organization to streamline OT hours.

Quebec’s… Well, Everything

Quebec has made some major updates to their annual vacation, leave of absence, and right to refuse work policies. Here’s a quick breakdown.

Annual vacation: Workers are entitled to three weeks of paid vacation after three years of working for the same employer. This provides more PTO to more workers than ever before, as the minimum was previously five years.

Leave of absence: The first two days of absence related to family, bereavement, paternity, sickness, organ donation, accident, or domestic violence leave will now be paid. Furthermore, domestic violence has been added to the list of leaves of absence entitling an employee to 26 weeks of unpaid leave.

Right to refuse: Employees now have the right to refuse to work for more than two hours beyond their regular hours in a 24-hour period. The previous rule was four hours.

While all of these changes are vital to helping employees achieve a healthier work/life balance, employers are rightfully worried about how it will affect their bottom line and efficiencies. For example, granting 26 weeks (half a year) of unpaid leave may not directly affect an organization’s pockets… for that one employee. But consider the costly ramifications of the following scenarios: an unqualified person serving as a replacement causes a compliance violation during an audit; alternatively, the long-term vacancy can’t be filled so overtime is being issued on that particular work order or project to meet deadline.

But what if you could encourage your own employees to fix the scheduling gaps that come out of the updated leave and vacation ordinances for you?

It will certainly take some aspects off the manager and scheduler’s plate so they can focus on forecasting and other initiatives that drive the business forward. With mobile workforce capabilities, your employees have the power to check schedules, request leaves, and volunteer for shifts. Mobile capabilities benefit organizations two-fold, improving both process efficiencies and employee satisfaction.

You can digitize the job bidding process to fill long-term vacancies. Employees pick different options for what their ideal base schedules (job function, hours, etc.) would look like. In turn, you’ll get a centralized audit log of what each employee is interested in. This helps HR make better job replacement decisions when the time comes—and helps keep the operation running smoothly because only qualified people will have the opportunity to bid for that vacancy.

The Indeavor Solution

Employers in Ontario are beginning to internalize the cost of overscheduling, so they need to make sure they aren’t overstaffed. Employers in Alberta can no longer rely on compressed workweeks that save them from overtime pay, so they need to control their overtime better. Employers in Quebec are paying for previously unbudgeted PTO and offering longer leaves of absence, so they need a streamlined vacancy filling process.

Employers in Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec all need Indeavor.

We can help. Learn more or request a demo here.

Workloud is our workforce management SaaS solution which offers clients an end-to-end, cloud-based employee scheduling, time & attendance, and absence management system. Workloud integrates with your human capital management and enterprise resource planning systems to create a robust platform that provides you with real-time employee data.

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