The labour relations system in the construction industry defines four sectors for the purpose of negotiating the collective agreements (Industrial / 2021-2025, Institutional and commercial / 2021-2025, Residential / 2021-2025, and Civil engineering and roads / 2021-2025). These agreements have common clauses dealing with union security, union representation, grievance-settlement procedures, recourse with regard to disciplinary measures, arbitration, the insurance and pension plan.
Expiry of the collective agreements and applicable working conditions
The four collective agreements expire every four years. The present collective agreements (publications/agreements) are in force until April 30, 2025. However, the working conditions agreed to continue to apply unless there is an agreement in principle, lock-out or strike in the respective sector.
How negotiations work
Negotiations take place at the provincial level and for the entire labour force and all construction firms. Working conditions agreed to by the parties are applicable to the entire industry throughout the province.
For each sector in the industry, a sector-based employer association is designated by the Act Respecting Labour Relations, Vocational Training, and Workforce Management in the Construction Industry (Act R-20) for the purpose of negotiation. Similarly, with regard to workers, there are five representative union associations designated by the Act to negotiate the collective agreements. To be applicable in a sector, a collective agreement must be ratified by the employer party and at least three union associations that represent more than 50% of all workers in the industry.
Applicable obligations and conditions during a labour conflict
The Act Respecting Labour Relations, Vocational Training and Workforce Management in the Construction Industry (Act R-20) continues to apply even during a labour conflict (strike or lock-out) in one or more sectors of the industry.
When one of the parties exercises its right to strike or lock-out, Act R-20 provides that employees cannot be kept from working nor employers from continuing their activities.
Workers must still hold a competency certificate, and employers must have a licence issued by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ).
Applicable working conditions
Under the Act, the common clauses of the collective agreements remain in effect during a labour conflict. These clauses concern:
- Union security and union dues check-off
- Union representation
- Grievance procedure and resolution
- Recourses in cases of disciplinary measures
- The basic complementary social benefits plan.
Other working conditions, including wage rates, work schedules, travel costs, contributions to the welding qualification and training funds (for employers only), paid statutory holidays, and obligatory annual vacations, depend on the sector targeted by the conflict.
- In the Institutional and commercial, Industrial, and Civil engineering and roads sectors, these working conditions are not maintained until a new collective agreement is concluded between the parties.
- In the Residential sector, the working conditions are maintained until a new collective agreement is concluded between the parties.
Regulatory obligations and monthly report
Regulatory obligations continue to apply during a labour conflict.
Therefore, employers are obliged to keep accounting records and transmit a monthly report. They must also continue to make deductions at source for the following items:
- The CCQ levy due by the employer and the worker
- Social benefits (basic contributions and premiums)
- The contribution to the Fonds d’indemnisation des salariés de l’industrie de la construction
- Union and employer dues.
The CCQ’s activities
Even during a strike or lock-out, the CCQ continues to ensure compliance with the rules in force in the construction industry, including by conducting site visits.
All services offered by the CCQ are maintained.
Have you been a victim of or witness to acts of intimidation during a labour conflict? Report the situation immediately to the CCQ by calling 1 800 424-3512 (toll-free) or 514 593-3132 (Montréal and area) or by filling out the electronic form provided for this purpose.
The Hour Reserve
Since May 2007, employers involved in the Residential sector may establish an hour reserve. This system enables the employer's workers to bank overtime hours and to use them, as needed, under certain conditions. When an employer decides to establish an hour reserve, all workers in the company must have access to the system.
The hour reserve system was created under the 2004-2007 collective agreement for the Residential sector. For more information on the legal aspects of the system, please consult section 19 of the collective agreement for the Residential sector, titled Règle particulière - réserve d'heures pour congé compensatoire.
Modalities for the Hour ReserveThere are rules for the creation, use, and liquidation of the hour reserve. In addition, the employer must report activities related to the hour reserve (creation, use, and liquidation) on the monthly report.
Establishing an Hour ReserveIf an employer decides to implement an hour reserve system, the overtime hours worked by the company's employees must be recorded in the books each week. Certain types of overtime hours may not be used to create an hour reserve. They are hours worked:
- On a site listed in Appendix B: remote site; James Bay project; hydroelectric site north of the 55th Parallel, including Great Whale
- During the obligatory annual summer or winter vacations
- During a statutory holiday
An employee’s hour reserve may contain 80 hours for light residential and 80 hours for heavy residential. Overtime hours worked above this limit are payable at the applicable wage rate plus 50% (time-and-a-half) for light residential or 100% (double time) for heavy residential.
When is an Hour Reserve Liquidated?
When Are the Hours in the Hour Reserve Used?
The hour reserve must be liquidated in the following situations:
Once a year, the employer must liquidate the employees’ hour reserve.
The annual liquidation takes place at the end of each averaging and reference period, as determined by the collective agreement. The Residential sector collective agreement 2021-2025 determines four of these periods:
- March 28, 2021, to March 26, 2022
- March 27, 2022, to March 25, 2023
- March 26, 2023, to March 30, 2024
- March 31, 2024, to March 29, 2025
The unused hours are liquidated by payment at the applicable wage rate at the time of the liquidation, increased by 50% (time-and-a-half) for light residential, or increased by 100% (double-time) for heavy residential.
Layoff of more than six months
When there is a layoff of more than six months, the employer must completely liquidate the hour reserve into compensatory time, payable at the wage rate applicable when the layoff took effect, all at regular pay (base wage) for the light residential sector or increased by 50% (time-and-a-half) for the heavy residential sector.
When an employee is dismissed, the employer must completely liquidate the hour reserve at the wage rate indicated in Appendix R or R-1, increased by 50% for the light residential sector or 100% for the heavy residential sector.
When an employee resigns, the employer must completely liquidate the hour reserve at the wage rate set out in Appendix R or R-1, all at regular pay (base wage) for the light residential sector or increased by 50% (time-and-a-half) for the heavy residential sector.
A worker may use the hours in the hour reserve in the following situations:
- To complete a normal work week (Monday to Friday) up to 40 hours;
- To complete a normal work week (Monday to Friday) up to 32 hours when the week is reduced due to a statutory holiday;
- To compensate for loss of salary when the worker is absent due to a leave as provided for in An Act Respecting Labour Standards. Example: absence to fulfil obligations related to childcare or to the health or education of a child
- To compensate for loss of salary due to an absence provided for in article 25 of the collective agreement. Example: absence due to a family member’s serious accident or illness
- When laid off for less than six months
- To compensate for loss of salary due to an absence authorized by the employer for a personal reason
The hours used in these situations are payable at the applicable regular wage rate for the light residential sector and at the base rate plus 50% for the heavy residential sector. The applicable wage rate is the one that the worker is earning at the time when the hours are used.
Unjustified or unauthorized absence
Employers are not required to permit use of hours in the hour reserve for any unjustified or unauthorized absence that does not fit within one or another of the six categories listed above.