Ministry 2002/03 Annual Service Plan Report -- Government of British Columbia.
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2002/03 Annual Service Plan Report
Ministry of Skills Development and Labour

Year-at-a-Glance Highlights

May 13, 2002 — Bill 42, Labour Relations Code Amendment Act, 2002, introduced to ensure the Labour Relations Board and others interpret and apply the code in keeping with its stated principles; ensure that job security and viability of the business are considered in LRB decisions; and, restore the right to communicate in union certification and decertification matters. Changes provide a framework for labour and management to build modern, healthy and competitive workplaces. Bill 42 passed May 30.

May 13 — Bill 48, Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2002, introduced to protect vulnerable employees, simplify workplace rules and to revitalize the economy by recognizing the needs of modern workplaces. Changes include providing greater flexibility in work hours; simplifying record-keeping, overtime and statutory holiday pay rules; and enhancing enforcement in problem areas. Bill 48 passed May 30.

May 13 — Bill 49, Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2002, introduced to ensure sustainability of the program, modernize how benefits are calculated, clarify coverage for mental stress and improve management of the system by restructuring Workers' Compensation Board governance. Bill 49 passed May 30.

May 30 — Bill 56, Workers Compensation Amendment Act (No. 2), 2002, introduced to reduce the levels of review and appeal of WCB decisions from three to two, create a new internal review function to improve the quality of decision-making and establish a new, independent appeal tribunal as the final level of appeal for workers' compensation matters. Bill 56 was replaced by Bill 63 in October 2002.

June 30 — Changes to workers' compensation brought about through Bill 49 came into effect. These include basing benefits on a worker's average net earnings, instead of 75 per cent gross earnings and ceasing wage loss benefits at age 65.

July 1 — Implementation of Employment Standards Self-Help kit that assists employees to determine if they have a complaint against their employers and to provide a step-by-step plan to deal with the issue first between themselves. If that does not lead to a successful conclusion, an Employment Standards Branch officer will resolve the dispute.

July 18 — Cabinet and deputy minister economic planning seminar includes discussion on skills shortages that could undermine economic growth in British Columbia. Ministry directed to engage with employers from key sectors to further diagnose the problem and discuss effective strategies.

July 22 — The Ministry and the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association signed a Memorandum of Understanding that provides for an employment standards officer to work exclusively with the association to educate workers and members, review payroll information and mediate disputes.

Oct. 9 — Changes to the Employment Standards Act clarified the length of time that the employment standards branch can go back to collect wages from employers when wage complaints are filed. Amendments ensure that complaints filed before the changes took effect are treated under the old rules.

Oct. 10 — Bill 63, Workers Compensation Amendment Act (No. 2), 2002, introduced to implement a new WCB appeals process. Bill 63 replaced Bill 56, introduced May 30. The new process reduces the levels of review and appeal of WCB decisions from three to two, creates a new internal review function to improve the quality of initial decision-making and establishes a new, independent appeal tribunal as the final level of appeal for workers' compensation matters. The new appeals process became effective March 3, 2003.

Oct. 21 — Bill 66, Public Sector Employers Amendment Act, 2002, introduced to set new rules for public service executive management compensation practices. The new rules reduced severance and accumulated benefit payments and increased transparency by ensuring contracts are fully disclosed.

Oct. and Nov. — Ministry holds eight employer employment seminars to discuss skills shortage and response options.

Nov. 30Employment Standards Amendment Act, Bill 48, brings averaging agreements, mandatory penalties and new rules around overtime and statutory pay into effect. As well, new definitions for "manager," "short-haul truck driver" and "high-technology professional" will modernize and simplify B.C.'s rules, making them more consistent with other jurisdictions. Cabinet approved these changes on Nov. 20, 2002.

Dec. 12 — A seven-member board of directors was named to review, restructure and rebuild the Workers' Compensation Board to make it more responsive to the needs of employees and employers. Douglas Enns was named chair. In addition, the Allan Hunt report on the Workers' Compensation Board's service delivery was released and turned over to the new Board.

Dec. 18 — An independent committee of special advisors was appointed to provide advice to government on the labour code. The five-member committee, appointed under Section 3 of the Labour Relations Code and chaired by lawyer Daniel Johnston, will review 14 issues to provide government with a better understanding of today's labour relations challenges and to ensure it is fair and balanced. (See Jan. 24, 2003.)

Dec. 19 — The province is taking a second look at the new Employment Standards regulation for high-end commission sales following a meeting with automobile sales staff and dealers.

Jan. 24, 2003 — The Section 3 Committee reviewing the Labour Relations Code has called for labour relations submissions to be provided by Feb. 21. The committee will then review and report to the Minister by April 11, 2003.

Mar. 12 — Bill 21, University of British Columbia Services Continuation Act, 2002, is introduced and passed to impose a 20-day cooling off period for striking CUPE members at the University of British Columbia and orders UBC and CUPE to return to the bargaining table immediately in an effort to settle their contract.

Mar. 28 — Government has reviewed new minimum wage and statutory holiday pay rules for people who sell automobiles and recreational vehicles. People who sell automobiles, trucks, recreational vehicles and campers must be paid at least minimum wage for their first 160 hours of work each month. Employees will continue to be exempt from overtime rules. Automobile and truck salespeople will have a 3.6 per cent wage premium added on to every pay cheque in lieu of statutory holiday pay. RV salespeople will continue to be exempt from statutory holiday rules.

Mar. 31 — Government responded to the HEU proposal to delay a pay increase in exchange for the employer putting contracting out and privatization initiatives on hold. The Minister of Labour asked his deputy minister to talk to the HEU to determine if there is a desire to set a framework for discussions.


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