The importance of following the rules

Q&A on legal remedies

Excerpts from an interview with Jean-Guy Gagnon, Special Advisor, Investigations

Starting September 9, what kind of legal penalties can we expect under the new regulation on worker referrals?

As of September 9, the entire industry must fulfill its new obligations by using the Carnet référence construction. In brief, associations that want to refer workers must hold a permit and use the Carnet to transmit their lists, workers must use it to indicate their availability to be referred, and employers must use it to declare their workforce needs. Employers must also use the Carnet to communicate their hiring and termination notices.

If a worker, employer, or association fails to meet these obligations, the regulation provides for various legal penalties.

What kind of violations will CCQ investigators focus on?

A multidisciplinary team made up of experts in investigation and labour management will be in place by September 9. Our goal will be to intervene effectively to help ensure the efficient implementation of the new referral service. Given that the Act is intended to eliminate union placement, the focus will be on people who prevent the referral system from functioning properly.

Initially, we’ll keep a close eye on those who continue to refer workers without a referral permit, or who bypass the Carnet référence construction. We are also going to be closely monitoring those who could hinder referral service activities or make intimidating gestures, particularly those who threaten employees assigned to the service.

Apparently the new act calls for some rather stiff fines. Is that true?

Yes, that’s true. Fines can be as much as $4,000, which is considerably higher than other fines provided for in the Act Respecting Labour Relations, Vocational Training, and Workforce Management in the Construction Industry.

The penalties can lead to referral permits being revoked, and even to decertification of union representatives.

Employers have to declare hirings and layoffs within very tight deadlines. Will the CCQ investigators be keeping an eye on that?

The goal will be to favour targeted interventions that have the greatest positive impact on efficiently implementing the new referral service. The issue of deadlines for hiring and termination notices could be one of the aspects we look at, but initially, we’ll be concentrating more on people who decide to throw a wrench in the operation of the Carnet than on those who have trouble meeting deadlines.

Most employers already respect these deadlines, and everyone should be able to do so with a minimum of effort.

If somebody realizes that an industry player isn’t playing by the new rules, what should they do?

If they observe irregularities, they should report them to CCQ, which is responsible for enforcing the new regulations. The Carnet and CCQ websites have direct links to the dedicated team responsible for investigations.

The Carnet référence construction is first and foremost a tool for recording the steps taken by employers and permit-holding associations with respect to labour referrals. This new information will be cross-tabulated with other reports and data available to CCQ to track evasion tactics used by those who refuse to play by the rules.