Inside the Liberal-NDP deal — and what it really means for HR

Employers are advised to revise HR policies, especially on sick days

Inside the Liberal-NDP deal — and what it really means for HR

The ruling Liberals and the opposition New Democrats have recently struck a "supply-and-confidence" deal that would see both parties working together in situations where they want the same "medium-term" outcome.

Following the agreement, Canadians should expect the deal to affect the legislations that would be passed this year until 2025, particularly on health, affordability, climate change, labour, reconciliation, tax initiatives, and democracy, CBC reported.

Simone Ostrowski, a workplace lawyer and litigator at Whitten & Lublin, told HRD that employees have a lot to gain under the new agreement between the Liberal and the New Democratic Party (NDP).

"Employees will have enhanced rights under the new Liberal-NDP agreement," she told HRD.

"First, federally regulated employees would receive 10 paid sick days per year, which is quite generous. Many federally regulated employees only receive two weeks of vacation per year, which is the minimum vacation they can receive under the Canada Labour Code.

"Granting these employees an additional 10 days of paid sick time per year essentially doubles their annual entitlement to paid time off," she said. 

According to Ostrowski, the efficiency of strikes would also be enhanced under the new deal thanks to another labour-related reform within the agreement.

"The other labour reform contained within the Liberal-NDP agreement is a prohibition on the use of replacement workers when federally-regulated employees are on strike," said Ostrowski.

"This will bolster the effectiveness of employees strikes as a means to put pressure on employers. If employers cannot hire replacement workers when employees are on strike, their business suffers.  Employers will be more willing to agree to unionised employee requests to avoid strikes and the loss of workers."

Read more: Federal NDP, unions happy Liberals will include strikes in anti-scab law

How will it change HR policies?

These reforms will surely make an impact on how employees behave. For Ostrowski, this means employers will need to be well-prepared for employees taking on more sick days, especially to prevent staffing shortages.

"Given that each federally-regulated employee will now have at least 10 paid sick days per year, workplaces will need to be well-prepared for scenarios when employees are absent due to illness," she said.

"Employees may be more willing to take sick days and typically do not give much notice when calling in sick. Workplaces will need to be able to ensure adequate staffing coverage and may need to hire more employees."

To prepare for this possible change, Ostrowski advised employers to consider implementing or revising their policy regarding employee use of sick time.

"Employers are not necessarily required to have such a policy, but it would be helpful to set out a process for employees to follow when they are taking a sick day," she said.

"The policy should set out who the employee should contact to notify that they are taking a sick day, and the method of communication.  The policy may also contain guidelines about when the employer may require employees to provide a medical note to substantiate their sick time off," she added.

Meanwhile, the proposed ban on hiring replacement workers would also enhance bargaining power on the side of unions and will put more pressure on employers to prevent strikes before happening, according to Ostrowski.

"The ban on the use of replacement workers should make employers more willing to avoid strikes and resolve employee demands before a strike occurs. In theory, this will enhance unions' bargaining leverage, but we do not have much detail about the ban yet," she said.

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