Changes to employment standards will better protect children, support workers

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New legislation to bolster British Columbia’s employment standards will better protect children and youth from dangerous work, and deliver improved support for workers whose rights have been violated.

“When British Columbians head out to their workplace, they need to know their safety and rights are being protected in law,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “We are making improvements that are long overdue – bringing back basic rights and protections that were gutted by the old government.”

These improvements directly address the priority problems identified from changes made in 2003, when protections for workers with legitimate complaints were weakened and children as young as 12 were put at risk of serious workplace injuries. The amendments will build on updates to the Employment Standards Act last spring that provided new, extended and more flexible maternity, parental and compassionate care leaves. Bains said government will continue to work on further improvements to protect British Columbians in the workplace.

The amendments incorporate recommendations from the BC Law Institute, as well as from the BC Employment Standards Coalition, the BC Federation of Labour, and feedback from workers, employers and the public.

The proposed amendments touch on four priority areas of employment standards, with changes to:

  • better protect children and youth from dangerous work;
  • make it easier for workers to get help when they feel their rights have been violated;
  • provide more job protection to people dealing with difficult personal circumstances; and
  • ensure people are paid the wages they are owed — and that those that violate the law do not have an unfair economic advantage.

“When you have a problem at work, you deserve to have your voice heard and your problem solved. You deserve to get the full pay you’ve earned. And you should be able to take the time you need to find the safety you need when you’re at risk from domestic violence,” said Bains. “These are the kinds of protections British Columbians have told us they want and that we’re proud to deliver.”

“We are pleased that these long-overdue changes to B.C.’s child employment laws are being brought forward,” said Adrienne Montani, provincial co-ordinator of First Call: B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition. “For the past 15 years, employers have been allowed to hire children for inappropriate and dangerous work and too many of them have gotten injured doing those jobs each year. We look forward to working with government to ensure children’s health and safety is prioritized in the new regulations under this act and to seeing robust monitoring and enforcement of employers’ compliance.”

Improving fairness for workers and ensuring balance in workplaces are shared priorities between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and are part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Learn More:

To read the BC Law Institute’s report on the Employment Standards Act, visit: