MONTREAL -- For the first time, a court has expanded the scope of what constitutes an 'employer's establishment' to include telework, thereby allowing the anti-scab provisions of the Labour Code to apply to telework.

The Court explained that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, telework has become widespread and that the definition of an employer's establishment must therefore be updated.

In 2007, the lockout at the Journal de Québec ended up in court because the union alleged the use of replacement workers. But the Court of Appeal narrowed the interpretation of anti-lockout provisions, ruling that to be considered a replacement worker during a strike or lockout, one had to be working on the employer's premises.

This notion of what constitutes the employer's place of business has now been expanded to include telework in a recent decision of the Labour Administrative Tribunal.

The local Unifor union, affiliated to the FTQ, alleged the use of replacement workers in a cement plant named Groupe CRH Canada in Joliette. It won its case, in part, with the court ruling that four people, one of whom was teleworking, were in violation of the anti-scab provisions of the Labour Code.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Nov. 30, 2021.