Parlez-vous français? What Bill 96 Means for Employers

Quebec recently passed Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec, which modifies the Quebec Charter of the French Language.

Designed to support and promote the primary status of the French language in the province of Quebec, this legislative change creates greater obligations for Quebec employers around the use of the French language.

Key requirements include the need to:

  • Communicate with Quebec employees in French, including documentation relating to:
    • Offers of employment, transfer and promotion
    • Disciplinary notices and union communications
    • Conditions of employment, such as manuals and policies, job application forms, group benefits information and training documents.
  • Avoid the requirement that a person know a language other than French to obtain or keep a position
  • Prevent discrimination or harassment against someone who has little or no command of a language other than French
  • Serve Quebec clients in French, including certain contracting arrangements (i.e., adhesion and consumer contracts).

What It Means for Organizations

It’s also worth noting that this bill increases the regulator’s inspection and enforcement powers when it comes to the French language and gives Quebec residents rights to seek damages for Charter violations. Committing an offence under the Charter could lead to fines of C$3,000 to C$30,000 per day, with additional fines for company directors and officers.

To ensure they are onside with the bill’s requirements, employers will want to review their existing policies, practices and documentation. They will also need to carefully review their communication strategy around pensions and benefits to ensure it is compliant with the new legislation.

Learn more about Bill 96.

Alyssa Hodder
Director, Education and Outreach – Canada

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