Truck drivers who are employed by federally regulated fleets will soon be eligible for up to 10 paid sick days per year, but the benefit will not extend to independent contractors among them.
“As employees, they would be entitled to all leaves in the [Canada Labour Code], including the 10 days of paid sick leave, which will come into force on Dec. 1, 2022,” a spokesperson at Employment and Social Development Canada said, responding to questions from TruckNews.com. “However, truck drivers classified as independent contractors are not considered employees under the Code and would not be entitled to the new paid sick days.”
The rule will apply to all employees in federally regulated businesses. In trucking, such businesses include operations that cross provincial or federal borders.
The Labour Program will consider employment relationships when deciding if personal service workers – such as those working under the so-called Driver Inc. model — are actually employees eligible for the sick days.
“’Personal service workers’ is a term used by the Canada Revenue Agency for the purposes of the Income Tax Act. This term is not defined under the [Labour] Code. This means that some personal service workers may be employees who are eligible for the 10 days of paid sick leave when it takes effect,” the spokesperson explained. “When determining whether or not an individual is considered an employee under the Code, the Labour Program takes into consideration the interpretations, policies and guidelines with regards to the employment relationship.”
Truck drivers are classified as employees if they work exclusively for a trucking company that provides tools of the job, controls duties, sets working hours, pays expenses, or provides group benefits, among other measures.
Stakeholders had until Aug. 15 to offer feedback on the proposed 10 sick days.
Attacking Driver Inc.
“Workers deserve 10 days of paid sick leave. It will protect them, their jobs, their families, close a gap in our social safety net and be a positive legacy of the pandemic,” federal Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan Jr. said in a related press release.
He previously attacked the Driver Inc. business model on the floor of the House of Commons.
“The Driver Inc. model deprives workers of their basic rights,” he said this June. “We amended the [Canada Labour Code] by prohibiting the misclassification of workers, and we have been inspecting work sites since then. Where we find people guilty of non-compliance, we will take action through orders, fines and prosecutions.”
The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has cited the coming paid sick days when stressing the need for “zero-tolerance” enforcement of labour and tax laws relating to Driver Inc. violations.
‘Running out of time’
“Especially considering the introduction of the 10-paid-sick day policy later this year, CTA and its members truly believe we are running out of time to save the trucking industry – the most critical service provider to the supply chain and the Canadian economy – from being taken over by the underground economy,” it said in a July bulletin.
Thirty days after the sick leave provisions come into force, federally regulated employees will earn their first three days of paid sick leave. New employees among them will earn those first three days 30 days after starting a new job. Employees will then be entitled to one day of medical leave with pay per month, up to the maximum of 10 days in a calendar year.
Any paid sick days not taken in a calendar year will carry forward to Jan. 1 of the following year and count toward the 10 days that can be earned in a new year.
Employers will be allowed to ask for a medical certificate for medical leaves with pay that last five days or more.
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