Competition Bureau releases guidelines for wage-fixing and no-poaching enforcement

Canadian money in a jean pocket. Photo: Canva/HR Law Canada

The Competition Bureau has announced the publication of its comprehensive wage-fixing and no-poaching enforcement guidelines.

These guidelines are intended to provide businesses with a clear understanding of the Bureau’s approach to enforcing the new criminal provisions, which will come into force on June 23, 2023.

As a result of the amendments made to section 45 of the Competition Act in 2022, it will become a criminal offense for employers to engage in certain agreements. Specifically, it will be unlawful for employers to conspire to fix, maintain, decrease, or control wages and other terms of employment.

Additionally, employers will be prohibited from agreeing to refrain from hiring or attempting to hire employees from other companies.

Furthermore, starting from June 23, 2023, fines for offenses related to the conspiracy provision will be determined at the discretion of the court.

This includes agreements to fix prices, allocate markets, restrict supply, fix wages, or refrain from hiring. Under the previous provision, fines were capped at a maximum of $25 million.

In line with these developments, the Competition Bureau will update its Immunity and Leniency Programs to incorporate the new wage-fixing and no-poaching provisions. These programs have proven to be vital tools for detecting and halting criminal conduct prohibited by the Competition Act.

Commissioner of Competition, Matthew Boswell, commented on the significance of these amendments, stating, “The wage-fixing and no-poaching amendments coming into force is an important step in the ongoing modernization of Canada’s competition law. With these enforcement guidelines, we’re providing businesses with the certainty and predictability they need to ensure that they’re in full compliance with the law.”

The wage-fixing and no-poaching amendments to the Competition Act were enacted on June 23, 2022, as part of the Government of Canada’s Budget Implementation Act, 2022 (Bill C-19). The release of the enforcement guidelines follows a thorough public consultation process, during which interested parties were invited to share their views on a draft version.

These enforcement guidelines are expected to serve as a valuable resource for businesses seeking to navigate the new criminal provisions and ensure compliance with Canada’s competition law. The Competition Bureau remains committed to promoting fair and competitive practices within the Canadian market, and the wage-fixing and no-poaching enforcement guidelines are a crucial component of this ongoing effort.

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