Proposed changes to The Saskatchewan Employment Act are now law

The Saskatchewan Government passed An Act to amend The Saskatchewan Employment Act (the “Amendment Act 2022”) which came into force on May 17, 2023. The Amendment Act 2022 aims to improve workplace health and safety and to better meet the needs of changing workplaces.

*MLT Aikins LLP previously reported on this matter in an insight from November 8, 2022. This insight is an updated version and includes a summary of the changes being introduced by the Amendment Act 2022.

Definition of Worker

The definition of worker under Part III and IV of The Saskatchewan Employment Act (the SEA) now includes those enrolled in a secondary or post-secondary education institution. To be considered a worker, students will need permission from their employer to perform work or services, or the employer will need to engage them in training.

Additionally, the SEA considers a volunteer or independent or dependent contractor a worker in situations relating to workplace harassment and violence.

Workplace violence

A major focus of the amendments is preventing workplace violence. The amendments introduce provisions that impose a duty on the employer and supervisors to ensure workers are not exposed to violence at work. The amendments also require workers to refrain from causing or participating in workplace violence.

The SEA currently requires employers to develop and implement a written policy statement and prevention plan to deal with workplace violence in limited situations. The amendments now require all employers to implement such policy. However, this change will not come into effect until May 17, 2024. Employers will have one year to ensure they have a policy statement and plan in place. The amendments also require employers to investigate all incidents involving workplace violence.

Workplace harassment and discrimination

The Amendment Act 2022 also includes specific direction that an employer must conduct an investigation into any incident of workplace harassment. The amendments also alter the definition of discriminatory action to include acts taken by a person acting on behalf of an employer.

Workplace investigations

Another notable change allows occupational health officers to take photographs or recordings during workplace investigations. The changes give an officer the power to exclude an individual who has been nominated to be interviewed in an investigation. If a person is excluded, the interviewee can nominate another person to be present.

Other amendments

Other amendments were implemented to ensure the SEA aligns with the changes made to the Canadian Hazardous Materials Information Review Act. The Amendment Act 2022 allows the director of occupational health and safety to defer action on an appeal if another proceeding is underway. Provisions that require mitigation of wages for workers who suffered discriminatory action have also been repealed. Additionally, general and housekeeping amendments have been made.

If you have questions about what these  changes mean to your organization, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Occupational Health and Safety or Labour and Employment team.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.