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Normandin Beaudry

Changes to the Labour Standards Act

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There, in black and white

NB Bulletin Vol. 6 N. 4, May 2003

The adoption of Bill 143 in December 2002 introduced amendments to the Act respecting labour standards (the "Act"), with the majority of the changes taking effect on May 1, 2003. The following provisions of the Act affect pension or group insurance plans:

  • The Act increases the number of weeks that an employee can be absent from work without pay as a result of sickness or accident from 17 to 26 per year.
  • The Act increases the number of days that an employee can be absent from work to fulfil family obligations from 5 to 10 per year.
  • The Act introduces the right to be absent from work without pay for a period of not more than 12 weeks per year if an employee must stay with a close relative because of a serious illness or a serious accident, or not more than 104 weeks if a minor child of the employee suffers from a serious and potentially fatal illness.
  • The Act introduces a paternity leave of 5 consecutive weeks, without pay. The paternity leave begins no earlier than the week of the child’s birth, and ends no later than 52 weeks after the week of the child’s birth.
  • The Act already provided that one parent of a newborn child could take parental leave of no more than 52 consecutive weeks, without pay. Prior to May 1, this leave had to end no later than 70 weeks after the birth or adoption of the child. The Act now allows this period to be extended to 104 weeks under the conditions established by government regulation. Since this regulation has not been issued, the new provision is not applicable yet.

In the event of absence due to illness or accident, or to maternity, paternity, or parental leave, or when an employee must stay with a close relative because of a serious illness, the Act now provides that the recognized pension and group insurance plans in the employee’s workplace shall be maintained, subject to payment of the usual employee and employer contributions relating to these plans. In the past, the employer was required to pay its share of the contributions only during periods of maternity leave.

 

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