This week, CUPE Saskatchewan submitted its recommendations to the provincial government as they review the Employment Standards Provisions of the Saskatchewan Employment Act. Saskatchewan currently lags behind many other jurisdictions with its minimum wage, job-protected leaves, and other important minimum standards. CUPE is urging the review to improve workers’ rights and protections for a fairer economy.
“It’s been over a decade since the government last reviewed these provisions, and so much has changed in workplaces since the last review in 2012,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “From the emergence of gig work and increased worker precarity to remote work arrangements first brought forward during the COVID-19 pandemic, the world of work is different than it was a decade ago. This review brings an opportunity to update the minimum employment standards in this province and make improvements to the working lives of people all across the province.”
Some highlights of CUPE’s recommendations to the provincial government include:
- Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour immediately and revise the existing formula for calculating the minimum wage to ensure regular increases adequately cover increases in the cost of living to provide a living wage. Saskatchewan remains the lowest minimum wage in the country.
- Ten days of paid sick leave so that workers can stay home when they are sick without having to worry about paying rent or putting food on the table. Saskatchewan currently does not legislate paid sick days.
- Three paid days of bereavement leave and expanded right to access bereavement leave for all workers – as already provided in the federal sector. Saskatchewan currently only has unpaid bereavement leave as a minimum standard.
- Five paid days of personal leave with at least three paid days per year for all workers, as already available to workers in the federal sector. Saskatchewan currently does not legislate minimum standards for personal leave to address urgent matters concerning themselves or their family members.
- Making the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a Provincial Statutory Holiday so that all workers have the chance to participate meaningfully in reconciliation and remembrance of the tragic history of the residential school system.
- Regulation of Tips to stop “tip theft” from employers and prohibit employers from withholding tips or other gratuities from an employee.
- Enshrining the right to disconnect for workers to address worker burnout and draw a line between work and home for those who work remotely.
Other recommendations made by CUPE Saskatchewan include amending the definition of employee to extend employment standard protections to all workers, requiring notice of work schedules to be provided in writing and advance notice of shift changes, extending job protection for long term serious illness or injury, and strengthening layoff protections and assistance for workers.