On July 9, 2023, major amendments to the Canada Labour Code 1 (the “Code”) came into force, and further amendments are set to come into force shortly. These amendments relate to Part III of the Code, which covers labour standards. They were provided for in the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 2, which was assented to on December 13, 2018, but are only now coming into force. They essentially provide for three new obligations for employers, namely that they must (1) reimburse employees for reasonable work-related expenses, (2) provide employees with a written employment statement containing information relating to their employment and (3) provide employees with information respecting employers’ and employees’ rights and obligations. New provisions of the Canada Labour Standards Regulations 3 (the “Regulations”) have also been adopted to clarify these new obligations. REIMBURSEMENT OF REASONABLE WORK-RELATED EXPENSES With this first amendment, the government sought to compensate for the fact that it can be difficult for an employee to be reimbursed for work-related expenses, such as work uniforms, equipment needed to perform their duties and travel or training expenses, given that these are not included in the definition of wages set out in Part III of the Code. It is also unlikely that employees would claim such expenses through legal action against their employer. The adoption of new provisions in this regard makes it easier for employees to have any reasonable work-related expenses they have incurred reimbursed. Under the new section 238.1 of the Code, an employee working in a federally regulated business is entitled to be reimbursed by their employer for reasonable work-related expenses. To process a claim for payment, the employer must assess the reasonableness of the expense and whether it is work-related. The new section 23.1 of the Regulations provides for a series of factors to consider in order to determine whether an expense is reasonable and work-related, particularly whether the expense is connected to the employee’s performance of work, whether it is required by the employer as a condition of employment or continued employment, whether it is incurred for a legitimate business purpose and not for personal use or enjoyment, whether the employer authorized it in advance and whether it is incurred by the employee in good faith. The employer must reimburse such expenses within 30 days of the day on which the employee submitted their claim for payment unless a written agreement or collective agreement specifies a different time limit. EMPLOYMENT STATEMENT Currently, federally regulated private sector employers are not required to provide documentation of employment status to their employees. Under the new section 253.2 of the Code, employers must provide employees with a written employment statement within their first 30 days of employment. This obligation comes into force 90 days after July 9, 2023. The new section 3.1 of the Regulations provides for 13 elements that must be included in an employment statement, including the employee’s job title, a brief description of their duties and responsibilities, the address of their ordinary place of work, the term of the employment, the duration of the probationary period, if any, a description of the necessary qualifications and any required training for the position, the employee’s hours of work and rules regarding overtime hours, and the employee’s rate of wages or salary. Employers must also provide employees with an updated version of the employment statement reflecting any change in the information it contains within 30 days of such change. Employers must retain a copy of these documents for 36 months following termination of employment. INFORMATION RESPECTING EMPLOYERS’ AND EMPLOYEES’ RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS Under the new section 253.1 of the Code, employers must, within the first 30 days of employment, provide each employee with “any materials that the Minister makes available and that contains information respecting employers’ and employees’ rights and obligations” as set out in Part III of the Code. Employers will also be required to provide employees with updated versions of these materials within 30 days of such versions becoming available. This new provision also requires employers to post and “keep posted” the most recent version of these materials “in readily accessible places where it is likely to be seen by employees.” Lastly, when an employer terminates an employee’s employment, the employer must, “not later than the last day of the employee’s employment,” provide the employee with the above-mentioned materials “that relate to terminations of employment.” These obligations come into force 90 days after July 9, 2023. ADMINISTRATIVE MONETARY PENALTIES The Administrative Monetary Penalties (Canada Labour Code) Regulations designate and classify violations of the provisions of Parts II and III of the Code and its regulations for which an administrative monetary penalty can be issued. Amendments have been made to these regulations to include the new obligations mentioned above, and to classify violations. Failure to comply with these new obligations exposes the employer to penalties ranging from $200 to $6,000, depending on the size of the business and the provision that has been violated. *** All federally regulated businesses must take note of these provisions to properly understand their new obligations. These provisions call for swift action on the part of concerned employers, especially to avoid monetary penalties. Do not hesitate to contact our team members for more information or any advice regarding these changes. R.S.C. (1985), c. L-2. S.C. 2018, c. 2. C.R.C., c. 986.
Sofia Khan Lawyer
- Québec, 2023
Sofia Khan is a member of the Labor and Employment team. She joined Lavery as a student in 2021 and completed her articling term at the firm in 2022. She completed her B.A. in Civil Law Cooperative at the University of Ottawa in 2020 and her B.A. in Common Law under the National J.D. Program at the University of Ottawa in 2022.
During her studies, Sofia completed cooperative internships with a transport company and a federal ministry where she was able to put her legal knowledge to good use.
Professional and community activities
- Shoebox Project, 2017-2019
- Mile End Legal Clinic, 2019, Volunteer
- Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History Award, 2022
- The Honourable Alice Desjardins Fellowship, 2022
- Dean’s Award, academic excellence, 2017-2020
- J.D., University of Ottawa, expected to be completed in 2022
- Licentiate in Law, cooperative program, University of Ottawa, 2020
The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) has recently published a study that it conducted with the largest active insurers in the Quebec insurance industry, entitled “Critical Illness Insurance Supervisory Report”1 (hereafter the “Report”).The study reveals surprising statistics that have led the AMF to issue recommendations for changes to critical illness insurance: Insurers must try to better explain insurance products to consumers in order to help them better understand the policies they are buying. Critical illness insurance Critical illness insurance is insurance that consumers can purchase for themselves or a loved one. It provides for the payment of a sum of money should the insured suffer from a critical illness that matches the definition set out in their insurance contract. The illnesses that are typically covered by this type of insurance are cancers (at a life-threatening stage), heart attacks and strokes. In general, the following principles apply to critical illness insurance: Each policy has a list of illnesses it covers. An insurance policy may also specify exclusions to covered illnesses. When an insurance policy covers a critical illness and no exclusions apply, it may have other conditions such as a waiting period2 or a survival period,3 which can vary from one insurance policy to another. AMF findings The AMF found that insurers deny one out of five critical illness insurance claims. In its Report, it notes that, in general, consumers face several issues with critical illness insurance, both in terms of understanding the product and with its purchase. These issues appear to result from the lack of information, clarity, support and consumer understanding. Covered illnesses and their characteristics differ from one product to the next and from one insurer to another. This makes it hard for consumers to easily compare available products. Moreover, the language used to describe products and draft policies is often complex. Insurance policies also contain many limitations and exclusions (such as pre-existing conditions) and various time limits that can be hard to grasp. AMF Recommendations Based on its findings, the AMF has developed five recommendations for insurers, and it expects insurers to apply corrective action. For the time being, the AMF does not intend to apply sanctions, but says that it will “take appropriate action when required.”4 Avoid situations where prepared materials and advertising result in confusion for consumers or in an incorrect understanding of the product Insurers must exercise care in how they use statistics and slogans in their materials and advertising. The AMF believes that certain forms of advertising can lead consumers to misunderstand the provided coverage because of statistics and slogans that are broader than the actual coverage set out in a contract. Insurers must keep to information that is relevant to the actual features of the product offered. The AMF insists that “it should not appear to consumers as if the product covers more than it really does or as if they require more insurance than they really need.” Better help consumers properly understand the product An insurance policy may cover different illnesses and may contain varying features. The vocabulary used in critical illness insurance contracts is often technical and specific to medical and insurance fields. Insurers should provide relevant and complete information written in accessible language to avoid confusion with the insured. The AMF suggests that insurers make tools such as guides, glossaries, summaries, illustrations and timelines available to help consumers better understand the features of their insurance policies, the scope of their coverage and any limitations, exclusions, time limits, and so forth. Provide insureds with post-purchase assistance The AMF indicates that support after purchasing critical illness insurance is key to help the insured better understand their rights and obligations and when to exercise them. It suggests that insurers implement post-purchase information communication mechanisms, such as making information available on a secure website, periodic statements or reminders of options that can be exercised. Better equip the distribution channels to appropriately advise their clients The AMF stresses that the various distribution channel stakeholders must be able to provide clear and relevant information to the insured over the entire lifecycle of the product. To do so, insurers should improve their training programs and provide appropriate reference tools to their distribution channels, which could include product features, the target client group for each product and a comparison with other types of products to assist customers in making choices. Facilitate the claims, complaint examination and dispute resolution processes Insurers must ensure that they provide sufficient information to the insured and fairly process claims. The AMF suggests that insurers make claims processes and claim forms easily accessible on their websites. The reasons for denying a claim should also be clearly explained in the letter to the insured, and the letter should outline the next steps, such as the opportunity to request a review or to file a complaint. Conclusion Insurers offering critical illness insurance products should implement the recent AMF recommendations to better inform consumers on their rights and obligations and on products offered and the coverage they provide. By implementing the AMF’s suggestions into their critical illness insurance activities, insurers will not only reduce the claims denial rate in the industry, but also avoid potential litigation. Autorité des marchés financiers, Critical Illness Insurance Supervisory Report (Report), Québec City, 2021. [Report] Time period that must elapse before critical illness coverage comes into force after the insurance policy is issued. Time period that must elapse before compensation after a critical illness is diagnosed. Report, p. 7.
Lavery is pleased to announce that four recently sworn-in lawyers are joining Lavery following the completion of their articling within the firm. Ayman El Alamy joins our Litigation and Conflict Resolution group and practices mainly in civil litigation and insurance law. "Working at Lavery means that you get the chance to be involved very quickly in stimulating projects while benefitting from learning-centred supervision and a friendly work environment imbued with a strong spirit of collegiality." Maria Ionele joins the Labor and Employment Law Group. She joined Lavery in October 2021 as a student and completed her articling term at the firm in 2022. "Lavery was the obvious choice for me. There, I encountered an authentic team of passionate and inspiring professionals. It's the ideal firm for developing as a legal professional. The cases are exciting and collaboration between colleagues is emphasized, making for a stimulating work environment." Sofia Khan joins the Labor and Employment team. She completed her articling term at the firm in 2022. She completed her B.A. in Civil Law Cooperative at the University of Ottawa in 2020 and her B.A. in Common Law under the National J.D. Program at the University of Ottawa in 2022. "What has marked me the most in my time at Lavery is the passion, determination and collaborative spirit of all the professionals that I have worked with. I am now starting my career in labour law, with the opportunity to be involved in major cases, to collaborate with experts in the field and to be surrounded by mentors who have my professional development at heart." Philippe Vachon joins the Administrative Law team. "Articling at Lavery was an opportunity for me to personally experience an environment where initiative is encouraged, while benefitting from the supervision required to develop the professional skills I needed in order to practice as a lawyer."