Québec’s Workplace Health and Safety Laws and Workers Working Remotely from Québec

In the growing employment landscape where a significant proportion of workers perform their work remotely, it is important that employers consider the health and safety implications of having a worker perform all or part of their work from another province. 

For example, an employer based in Ottawa, Ontario may be required to comply with Québec’s health and safety laws when it allows a worker to work fully or partially remotely from their home in Gatineau, Québec.

There are two main pieces of legislation that govern the protection of workplace health and safety in Québec: (1) the Act respecting occupational health and safety, which provides for the right of re-assignment and the right of refusal, and establishes each parties’ obligations to ensure the safety of workers; and (2) the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases, which provides for the right to rehabilitation and the right to return to work.

To determine whether the Acts above apply to an employer whose worker is working remotely from their home in Québec, one should start by considering the following questions: was the worker a victim of a workplace accident or illness sustained or incurred while performing work in Québec? Did the employer have an establishment in Québec when the accident or illness sustained or incurred by the worker occurred? 

One of the central questions in establishing whether the Acts apply is whether the worker’s home can be considered an establishment. The decision of Brûlotte[1]  can provide some guidance on this issue. In that decision, the Commission des lesion professionnelles (now the Administrative Labour Tribunal) established four elements that must be present for a worker’s home office to constitute an establishment:

  1. Installations or equipment,
  2. That are grouped together on the same site,
  3. That are organized under the authority of the same person or related persons, and
  4. That are intended to produce or distribute goods and services.

Where these four elements are present, the Acts above may apply to an employer through a worker who works remotely from Québec, even if they complete part of their work in person from offices outside Québec. 

The employer would then be required to respect the various obligations set out in the Acts. These obligations include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Ensuring that the workplace is safe
  • Training workers to avoid accidents and injuries at work
  • Identifying, controlling, and eliminating hazards to workers
  • Establishing a safety program 

Further, under Bill 42, the Québec government may add additional obligations for employers regarding workplace harassment and sexual violence at work, namely to ensure that methods and procedures are in place to control, identify and eliminate risks of psychological harassment, including words, actions and gestures of sexual nature[2] . 

If your organization needs help with determining whether its workers are protected by Québec’s laws that govern workplace health and safety, please contact Sophie Kassel 613-410-6115 and François Russo 343-997-3042.

More generally, Emond Harnden’s Québec Law Team can be contacted for any Québec employment or labour law questions your organization may have.

This article provides general information and should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion.

[1] Brûlotte et Curry,  1991 CALP, AZ-91156157.

[2] An Act to prevent and combat psychological harassment and sexual violence in the workplace (“Bill 42”)1st Session, 43rd Legislation, art 18.

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