Fundamentally French – Quebec imposes new rules and requirements relating to the French language

As a predominantly French speaking province, with a distinct civil law system, doing business with and in Quebec has always raised unique considerations. However, with the passing of Bill 96 – An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Quebec, employers need to be even more alert to the special French language requirements that are in force when doing business in the province.


The explanatory note included with Bill 96 outlines that the purpose of the bill is to "affirm that the only official language of Quebec is French. It also affirms that French is the common language of the Quebec nation." To accomplish this purpose, the bill amends and strengthens the provisions of the Charter of the French language (the "Charter"), among various other statutes, and imposes significant new obligations on organizations and enterprises, including both private and public bodies, operating in Quebec with respect to the French language.

Employment Impacts:

Bill 96 includes a number of provisions specifically targeted at increasing the use of French in Quebec workplace matters. Some of the major changes include:

  • Increased Francization of Companies: Currently, businesses operating in Quebec employing 50+ people have to comply with francization requirements under the Charter. This includes registering with provincial authorities and receiving a certification confirming the use of French is generalized in the workplace, among other things. Bill 96 expands the francization obligations to employers with 25+ employees, effective June 1, 2025. Bill 96 also changes some of the obligations with respect to the francization process, including adjusting the period to analyze the employer's language situation, broadening and changing some of the requirements related to francization committees, shortened timelines to develop a francization program, among other changes.
  • Documentation and Contracts: Bill 96 expanded employers' existing obligation to communicate with employees in French. In particular, employers are required to ensure the following is in French:
    • Offer of employment, transfer or promotion;
    • Individual employment contracts, unless the parties expressly consent;*
    • Written communications with employees, even after termination, unless the employee has requested the communications in another language;
    • The following documents, and if available in another language, see that the French version is available on terms that are at least as favourable:
      • Employment application forms;
      • Documents relating to conditions of employment; and
      • Training documents produced for staff.

*Note: If it is an adhesion contract (non-negotiable contract) both parties have to examine a French version of the contract before expressly consenting to be bound by the non-French version.

  • Recruitment: Importantly, as a result of Bill 96, employers are now prohibited from requiring a person, in order to keep or obtain a position, to have knowledge of a language other than French, unless (a) the nature of the duties requires such knowledge, and (b) the employer has taken reasonable means to avoid imposing such a requirement. If knowledge of another language is required, the employer must indicate in the job offer the reasons justifying the requirement.

Further, when an offer to fill a position, including through recruitment, hiring, transfer or promotion, is published by an employer in a language other than French, the employer must also publish it in French and ensure that the offers are published simultaneously and using transmission means of the same nature and reaching a target public of a proportionally comparable size.

  • Discrimination: Bill 96 expressly sets out that employees are entitled to work in a workplace free of harassment or discrimination with respect to the use of French, because they do not know another language or because they have exercised a right under the Charter, among other things. Employers are obliged to take reasonable steps to prevent such conduct, and if they become aware of it, take steps to stop it. Bill 96 also allows employees who believe they have experienced workplace harassment or discrimination based on their use of French to file a complaint with Commission de normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail ("CNESST").
  • Sanction and Reprisals: Quebec employers were already prohibited from dismissing, laying off, demoting or transferring an employee in connection with their use of the French language, including if they do not know another language other than French or have exercised their rights under the Charter, among other things. However, this has been expanded to also prohibit taking reprisals against employees or imposing any other penalties against employees for same.

In addition to these changes, there are numerous other changes that may impact employers operating in Quebec, such as new requirements relating to signage, posters and advertising, trademarks, and more stringent French-language customer service requirements, to name a few. Businesses operating in Quebec are encouraged to consult with their legal counsel to ensure they understand the unique impacts of Bill 96 on their business.


Bill 96 has important repercussions for businesses operating in Quebec. Businesses will need to make sure they comply with the stringent French law requirements, including when dealing with employment related matters. While this clearly applies to Quebec based businesses, it is important to keep in mind that these requirements could also apply to businesses based elsewhere, but who recruit or hire workers from Quebec. For example, employers who are based in other jurisdictions but employ remote workers from Quebec will need to make sure their practices accord with these new rules.