Employment Standards Act

The Issue

In April 2019, the Provincial Government introduced Bill 8 and Bill 30 to amend the BC Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Code, respectively. On May 30, 2019, these bills received Royal Assent and the new laws are now in effect. The new legislation is favourable for employees and unions. https://www.bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/00_96113_01
Notable changes to the Labour Relations Code

  • The Labour Relations Code’s previous free speech provision, which was relatively permissive of employer speech, has been scaled-back. Now employers may only give “statements of fact or opinion reasonably held concerning an employer’s business.” This is the same language as was found before 2002, which was generally interpreted by the Labour Relations Board to be more restrictive of employer statements towards trade unions and labour organizations.
  • Certification and decertification votes must now be taken within 5 business days of the application, which is a reduction from the previous requirement of 10 days.


Notable changes to the Employment Standards Act (ESA)

  • Employers will not be able to use their collective agreement language to opt-out of several requirements, such as hours of work, overtime, vacations etc., under the ESA. It is now the law that collective agreements must meet or exceed the requirements provided for in the ESA.
  • Employees under the ESA are now entitled to greater leave options related to domestic or sexual violence. This can be to seek counselling, assistance from social services, legal counsel, and others.
  • Employees under the ESA must now be given up to 36 weeks of leave to attend to their children regarding critical illness or injury.
  • New restrictions on youth and children working were introduced in 2021, which protects child labour. 


The tourism industry does not conform to the standard 9-to-5 workday and employers in this industry often seek flexibility in scheduling their human resources to meet demand. While the hours of work and break provisions in the Employment Standards Act do provide for such flexibility, there are important limits that as an employer you must be familiar with. BCHA worked hand in hand to ensure the revisions to the act regarding youth and under 16 year old labour allowed the operational duties youth and workers under 16 have historically performed including light cleaning duties, dishwashing, laundry, grounds maintenance, bussing service skills in restaurants etc. there were no specific additional restrictions for the hotel sector in the revision in 2021.
The BCHA will continue to work with the provincial government to ensure that any amendments to the Employment Standards Act consider the flexible nature of the hotel industry. The BCHA will work with the provincial government to advocate on behalf of its members to present the perspective of the hospitality sector to advance their needs in today’s changing workplace.