FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government introduced today amendments to the Employment Standards Act that will improve its ability to protect foreign workers in New Brunswick.

The amendments will create an employer registry that will strengthen the communication of the provincial government with foreign workers and their employers about employment standards and the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers.

The amendment adds provisions to ensure employers only recover allowable recruitment and transportation costs from the foreign workers themselves. It clarifies legal practices with respect to foreign worker housing arrangements and the holding of personal documents such as passports and work permits.

"In the 2012 speech from the throne, our government recognized foreign workers as a vulnerable group of employees and promised to develop new worker recruitment and protection rules," said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Jody Carr. "The changes we are proposing today mark an important step in fulfilling this commitment."

In addition, the amendment will add two new unpaid employee leave provisions to protect the job security of employees.

These provisions will protect employees who act as a parent or guardian and require leaves of absence either to care for their critically ill or injured child or cope with a situation where their child dies or disappears as a result of a suspected Criminal Code offence.

"These amendments are in line with recent changes to federal income support programs for the same provisions,” said Carr. “New Brunswickers will now have job security for up to 37 weeks in the rare cases it may be needed. Our government is committed to rebuilding New Brunswick. One way we are doing that is through fostering a skilled labour force that is protected by, and aware of, our strong and relevant employment standards."

A separate amendment will change directors' liability provisions introduced last spring but have yet to be proclaimed.

The changes, the result of stakeholder feedback, will require a corporation to be pursued first, but for-profit directors may become liable for specific wages and / or vacation pay after 30 days' notice of their personal liability.

The amendments will provide a reasonable diligence defence to for-profit corporate directors and ensure such directors cannot be held liable for administrative penalties levied against a corporation associated with non-payment of wages and / or vacation pay.