The Act respecting labour standards contains provisions concerning differences in conditions of employment that affect the majority of Québec workers, whether they are full or part time.
A difference in treatment clause creates, for those employees hired after a specific date, conditions that differ from those of their colleagues who perform the same tasks in the same establishment.
Differences based solely on the hiring date are prohibited. Some employees may enjoy better conditions based, for example, on seniority, their professional qualifications, their experience, their performance or the quality of their assessment. Differences based on these reasons are not prohibited differences within the meaning of the Act.
The Act respecting labour standards prohibits differences in treatment pertaining to the application of the following standards:
When an employee complains about differences in his conditions of employment, these conditions must be compared with those of an employee performing the same tasks in the same establishment, and not just with the minimum conditions stipulated in the Act.
The Act respecting labour standards permits the making of permanent or temporary adjustments to conditions of employment in the following cases:
These adjustments cannot serve as points of comparison to conclude that there are differences in the conditions of employment.
The time required to complete adjustments varies from one enterprise to the next. It depends on a series of factors such as:
The provisions of the Act respecting labour standards are public policy and the parties to a collective agreement must abide by them. The Commission des normes du travail invites enterprises and unions to make sure that their collective agreements comply with these provisions. Any agreement that does not respect these provisions is considered null.
A non-unionized employee contacts the Commission des normes du travail. As for a unionized employee who has a recourse under his collective agreement, such as a grievance right, he can use it or file a complaint with the Commission des normes du travail.
An employee who is unionized or governed by a decree and who files a complaint with the Commission des normes du travail must demonstrate that he has not used the recourses provided under his collective agreement or the decree governing him. If the employee has used said provisions, he will have to withdraw them.
After having verified the admissibility of the employee's complaint, the Commission des normes du travail conducts an investigation. If the situation entails differences prohibited by the Act, the Commission will ask the employer to correct the situation. If the required corrections are not made, the Commission can institute legal proceedings.