The Deputy Chair: We are now on the original bill. The hon. Member for Calgary-Elbow.
Mr. Clark: Thank you very much, Madam Chair. As we dug into Bill 17, my staff identified areas that they felt could use some improvement within the bill, and with that I will rise and would like to please propose an amendment.
The Deputy Chair: Hon. member, your amendment will be referred to as A2. Please go ahead.
Mr. Clark: Thank you, Madam Chair. I move that Bill 17, Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act, be amended in the following provisions by striking out “48 hours’” and substituting “1 week’s”: section 34 in the proposed section 53.92(1), section 35 in the proposed sections 53.952(1), 53.962(1), and 53.972(1).
What this amendment will do is to change the notice requirement for return to work from 48 hours to one week, and this is for the longer job-protected leave provisions within the bill. The current period, for example, for compassionate care leave, which I believe is currently eight weeks: the bill seeks to increase that to 27, if I’m not mistaken. That notice period of two weeks seems a bit long, but a notice period of only 48 hours does not seem like quite long enough.
When we have a longer term leave that could be up to half a year or perhaps even longer than that, the employer is very likely to put in a temporary backfill employee in that place. If that person is there for more than 90 days but less than a year, they would be entitled to either one week’s notice or one week’s severance pay. This amendment seeks to align the notice period for the employee returning to work after a leave with that severance pay to ensure that it is something that is, again, fair to the employer and, I also feel, doesn’t put an undue burden on the returning employee.
This is based both on our own analysis and reading of the bill but also on stakeholders, particularly chambers of commerce speaking on behalf of employers, who have indicated that this would be something they would like to see changed. I have had the opportunity to speak with the minister on this. I imagine that perhaps she will make some of her own comments. I also wanted to thank my team for their hard work in pulling together this amendment in short order.
My sincere hope is that through this amendment we can improve the bill without unduly burdening employees and, certainly, without unduly burdening employers, allowing people to take their leave. I think the reality in practice is that the vast, vast majority of employees and employers would be in contact with one another anyway, but this ensures that employers will not be surprised by a relatively small notice window of an employee returning to work to rightly claim their position even if they have been away for a long period of time.
It’s my hope that the entire House can support this amendment. I do think it makes the bill much stronger. Thank you, Madam Chair.
The Deputy Chair: Thank you, hon. member.
Are there any members wishing to speak to amendment A2? The hon. Minister of Labour.
Ms Gray: Thank you, Madam Chair. I’d like to thank the hon. member for not only bringing forward this amendment but bringing it to my attention in advance so that I would have a chance to review it. I think it is absolutely understandable, making sure that employ-ers have adequate time to adjust, particularly in the case of one of these longer term leaves that we were talking about. My office as well had heard from chambers about this. Making sure that we have that flexibility so that employers can prepare, understanding that in so many circumstances employers and employees will negotiate these arrangements – and often there might even be frequent updates while someone is away so that the employer knows what’s happening – make those arrangements together, hopefully, most of the time, and providing this minimum one week of notice is more than reasonable.
I think that the member opposite’s amendment does make sense. I’m happy to support this amendment going forward. Thank you again for reaching out to me on this.
The Deputy Chair: Thank you, hon. minister.
Are there any other members wishing to speak to amendment A2?
Seeing none, I’ll call the question.
[Motion on amendment A2 carried]