For Employers

BC’s New Limitation Act – What Employers Should Know

BC’s Limitation Act is the piece of legislation that sets out the amount of time that parties have to start court proceedings pursuing their claim. The time one has to sue is called a “limitation period”.

The previous Limitation Act (the “Old Act”), provided for two, six and ten year limitation periods depending on the type of claim, with most employment related claims subject to the six year limitation period.

On June 1, 2013, a new Limitation Act (the “New Act”) came into effect in British Columbia. Under this New Act, most employment related claims are now subject to a two year limitation period.

The New Act’s limitation periods will apply to claims arising from acts or omissions that occur and are discovered on or after June 1, 2013.

The Old Act’s limitation periods will apply to claims arising from acts or omissions that occurred and were discovered prior to June 1, 2013.

So what does this mean for employers?

It means that if you have employees who may have potential claims against you, you need to be aware of when those claims arise.

If the employee’s claim arises on or after June 1, 2013, the employee generally has two years to sue you in relation to that claim. If the employee does not sue within two years, that employee may lose his or her claim.

That being said, there are certain provisions under the Limitation Act that may allow an employee more time to sue in some cases, such as those involving a disability or minors. It’s also possible that an employee and an employer could agree to a limitation period that is different from that set out in the Limitation Act.

As a basic example, if an employee is dismissed on June 1, 2013, then that employee would typically have two years from that date to pursue a wrongful dismissal claim. On the other hand, if an employee was dismissed from his or her job on March 1, 2013, then that employee normally has six years from that date to pursue your claim as the Old Act, which has a six year time-limit for most wrongful dismissal claims, continues to apply.

In the end, you should be aware of the time limits relating to any potential claim against you.

This is particularly important with respect to record keeping, as you will want to ensure that you retain records relating to a potential claim long enough to be able to use them in a potential claim.

Employers should also be aware that once a claim is commenced, an employee can wait up to a year before serving that court document on you. In the some cases, employees could start claims just before the expiry of the limitation period, and then wait a year to serve that claim on the employer.

Finally, it should be noted that the new Limitation Act does not extend the usual six-month time limit for filing a complaint with the Employment Standards Branch in British Columbia.

If you are interested in learning more about protecting your business from employee related claims, or for assistance on an active or anticipated claim against you, please contact us to schedule an appointment.

This blog is produced by Waterstone Law Group LLP. This blog is intended for information purposes only and is not offered as legal advice for a specific claim. Subscription to or use of this site does not establish a solicitor – client relationship between the user and Waterstone Law Group LLP or any of the individual contributors. For advice relating to your employment law claim, please contact us to arrange for a consultation.

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