Amendment broadens prohibited acts of employers against whistleblowers
Prince Edward Island has introduced legislation strengthening the protections in favour of whistleblowers.
Bill 114, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act (No.4), received royal assent on July 14. The Act prohibits employers from discriminating or from taking reprisal against an employee on account of the employee’s actions in reporting or threatening to report to a lawful authority an actual or potential offence by the employer.
The employer also cannot discriminate or take reprisal against an employee who testifies, or who is asked to give testimony, in an investigation or proceeding pursuant to provincial legislation or federal legislation. Threats of reprisal and discrimination are likewise banned.
While the previous iteration of the provision made discrimination a prohibited act, Bill 114 further safeguards whistleblowers by also prohibiting the taking of reprisal, as well as threats to take reprisal or to discriminate, against the whistleblower.
The Bill, however, provides an exception, which is when the employee’s actions in reporting or threatening to report an actual or potential offence, or when the employee’s actions in giving testimony in an investigation or proceeding, are found to be frivolous or vexatious.
The lawful authority contemplated in the legislation can either be police, a law enforcement agency or an individual directly or indirectly tasked with supervising the employee.
In a prior amendment to the Employment Standards Act, PEI also provided for a new leave of absence, which is available to employees who are unable to perform their work duties due to an emergency declared by the province. This emergency leave is available until the day that the emergency has ended or the day that the emergency is no longer stopping the employee from fulfilling their work duties.
PEI introduced the emergency leave in Bill 38, An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act (No.3), which received royal assent on June 18.