Québec's Bill 96 modifying the Charter of the French Language receives royal assent: Key dates for when the amendments come into force

Bill 96

Regulatory Update

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On June 1, 2022, Bill 96, An Act respecting French, the official and common language ‎of Québec (“Bill 96”) received royal assent and became law. Passed by Québec’s National Assembly, Bill 96 significantly changes the Charter of the French Language (the “Charter”). For more information about the key takeaways of Bill 96, see our recent article.‎

While some provisions of Bill 96 come into effect as of June 1, 2022, others will come into effect over a period of 3 years. Following are some of the key dates and requirements for businesses and employers to keep in mind:

June 1, 2022 (date of assent):

  • Written communications to employees must be in French (e.g. offers of employment, transfer, promotion, communications and documents relating to employment, including those after termination, training documents);
  • Employees may only be bound by employment agreements in a language other than French that contain standard clauses or which are contracts of adhesion if they first examine the French version and it is their express wish to be bound by the agreement in a language other than French. Therefore, employers must provide employment agreements in French first;
  • Employers advertising a job offer in a language other than French must simultaneously advertise the job offer in French using transmission means of the same nature and reaching a target public of a proportionally comparable size;
  • Employees can file a complaint with the CNESST if they believe that they have been the victims of discrimination or harassment because they have little or no command of a language other than French, because they claim the possibility to express themselves in French or because they have demanded the respect of one of their French language rights;
  • Provisions regarding increased penalties and civil sanctions come into force (see “Increased penalties and other consequences of non-compliance” section in our previous article);

September 1, 2022:

  • Certified French translations must be attached to judicial pleadings drawn up in English that ‎emanate from a legal person. ‎The legal person must bear the translation costs (see “Language of justice” section in our previous article);
  • Applications to register security at the Land Register and the Register of personal and movable real ‎rights must be in French (see “Language of business and commerce” in our previous ‎article)‎;

June 1, 2023:

  • Contracts of adhesion must be presented in French first before parties jointly choose to be ‎bound by a version drawn up in a language other than French;‎
  • Contracts entered into with the civil administration, and related documents will have to be drafted in French (see "Language of civil administration" section in our previous article);
  • The Office québécois de la langue française (the “OQLF”) may identify businesses with as few as five employees in certain key sectors, to which Francisation Québec could offer French language learning services;

June 1, 2025:

  • Francization rules will apply to companies with 25 or more employees in Quebec, which will be required to register with the OQLF (see "Francization" section in our previous article);
  • Public signs, posters and commercial advertising must be modified in order to comply with the new trademark exception and "markedly predominant" requirement (see summary in "Language of business and commerce" section in our previous article). Therefore, companies must ensure that their trademarks are registered in order to benefit from the "trademark exception" under the Charter.

For more information about the obligations of Quebec businesses and employers under the Charter of the French Language, Bill 96 and its coming into force, please contact one of our DLA Piper (Canada) LLP lawyers at the Montreal office.

 

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