Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Changing Work Relationships and the Protection of Workers under Quebec and Australian Occupational Health and Safety Law Workplace Pensions: Next Generation or Final Frontier

Document type Article
Author Laflamme, Anne-Marie
Journal Canadian Labour and Employment Law Journal
Volume 19
Date 2015-2016
Pages 223-254


Quebec's occupational health and safety regime has not kept pace with the far-reaching transformation in work organisation which has occurred in the past several decades. Rights and duties under Quebec legislation continue to be defined in relation to the paradigm of the traditional contract of employment, even though the concept of the employment contract is of diminishing relevance in the face of ever-increasing use of contracting, subcontracting, labour hire agencies, supply chains and other alternative work arrangements. Given the documented link between precarious work and a heightened risk of job-related hazards, and that health and safety at work has long been recognized as a fun- damental human right, the author argues that Quebec law is in need of reform. Such reform, she contends, could be modelled on the harmonised Work Health and Safety Acts recently adopted by most Australian jurisdictions. The most notable innovation in the Australian statutes is the imposition of a broad gen- eral duty of care on any "person conducting a business or undertaking. " That duty applies to all categories of workers, regardless of whether or not there is an employment contract. Furthermore, the Acts stipulate that where multiple persons are involved in the conduct of a business or undertaking, they are obli- gated to consult, cooperate and coordinate in order to ensure the health and safety of workers, all of whom are entitled to participate in the consultations through their elected representatives. While noting that effective enforcement of these provisions continues to present challenges, the author sees the Australian reform as an important step forward in providing occupational health and safety protections for precarious workers.