Federal or provincial – are you certain which laws to follow?

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Employers know there are labour and employment laws that they must apply when conducting business – understanding what set of laws should be followed for Canadian employers is not always easy. Every Canadian employer must correctly identify whether it is covered by federal or provincial legislation.    

The recent decision of Greaves v Actton Transport Ltd 2015 CanLII 10860 (ON LA) illustrates just how confusing identifying the proper legislation can be for both employers and employees alike.

In this case, two employees brought a complaint under the Canada Labour Code as they both believed that their company was covered by federal laws. Before the arbitrator even heard the merits of the case, however, the employer’s preliminary objection that the Canada Industrial Relations Board had no jurisdiction had to be answered.

Most employment relationships are covered by provincial legislation, however, federal law applies in certain industries and circumstances.

For example, interprovincial trucking companies apply federal law. This fact is likely why the employees mistakenly brought their claim to the CIRB. The two employees worked for a branch of SuperSave in the GTA. The employees’ duties involved picking up, delivering, installing and dismantling portable toilets in the GTA.

SuperSave, however, was highly integrated with Actton Transport which is a federally-regulated trucking company. Actton supplies materials by transport truck across provincial lines to the SuperSave companies. The employees believed that because Actton and SuperSave were interconnected that SuperSave should also be regulated by federal law.

The arbitrator disagreed.

(Continued...)

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