Canada: Canada Labour Code Amendments In Force September 1st

Last Updated: September 9 2019
Article by Cristina Tomaino

The Canada Labour Code is the employment and labour legislation that applies to federal works, undertakings, and businesses. While most employers in Ontario are provincially regulated, the Canada Labour Code applies with respect to industries such as shipping, telecommunications companies, aircrafts and air transportation, inter-provincial common carriers, radio broadcasting, and banking.

As our regular readers may be aware, the Part III of the Canada Labour Code was amended in December 2018 by Bill C-86, the Budget Implementation Act, 2018. We first blogged on these amendments here.

The sweeping changes to the Canada Labour Code officially came into effect on September 1, 2019, and include the following:

Hours of Work

Breaks and Rest Periods

  • Federally regulated employees are now entitled to an unpaid break of at least 30 minutes during every five consecutive hours of work.
  • Every employee is entitled to be granted at least eight consecutive hours of rest between work periods.
  • Every employee will be entitled to unpaid breaks that are necessary for medical reasons and nursing.

Scheduling

  • Employers are required to provide employees with their work schedule in writing at least 96 hours before the start of the employee’s first work period or shift under that schedule. In the absence of such notice, an employee may refuse to work, subject to certain exceptions.
  • An employee with six months of continuous service may request changes to working hours, schedule, or location of work, or other conditions as prescribed by regulation. An employer must respond in writing to any such request within 30 days.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

Federal employees working in the same industrial establishment, performing substantially the same kind of work, requiring the same skill, effort and responsibility, under similar working conditions, are entitled to an equal wage rate regardless of employment status. 

This provision will not apply if the difference in pay is based on seniority, merit, production, or any other factor prescribed by regulations. Employers are prohibited from reducing an employee’s wage rate in order to comply with this newly introduced equal treatment provision.

Temporary Help Agencies

Temporary help agencies will be prohibited from charging fees to assignment employees, preventing their employees from obtaining work assignments directly from their clients, or establishing employment relationships with their clients.

Equal Pay for Equal Work provisions outlined above will apply to employees placed by Temporary Help Agencies.

Annual Vacations

Bill C-86 will increase the amount of paid vacation that federally regulated employees are entitled to as follows:

  • At least two weeks of paid vacation (or 4% vacation pay) for employees who have completed at least one year of employment;
  • At least three weeks of paid vacation (or 6% vacation pay) for employees who have completed at least five consecutive years of employment with the same employer; and,
  • At least four weeks of paid vacation (or 8% vacation pay) for employees who have completed at least 10 consecutive years of employment with the same employer.

Holidays

Bill C-86 eliminates the 30 day service requirement for an employee to be entitled to holiday pay for a general holiday.

Termination of Employment

Group Terminations

Employers who terminate the employment of 50 or more employees in any period not exceeding four weeks must, among other requirements, give a prior notice of at least 16 weeks to the Minister of Labour, as well as an individual notice or severance pay to the employees affected. An employer is permitted to pay such employees 16 weeks' wages and to give the Minister of Labour a notice of at least 48 hours.  

Individual Terminations

Notice requirements with respect to individual termination have also increased as follows:

  • Two weeks for employees who have completed three months of employment;
  • Three weeks for employees who have completed three years of employment;
  • Four weeks for employees who have completed four years of employment;
  • Five weeks for employees who have completed five years of employment;
  • Six weeks for employees who have completed six years of employment;
  • Seven weeks for employees who have completed seven years of employment;
  • Eight weeks for employees who have completed eight years of employment or more.

Leaves of Absence

Under the amended legislation, new leaves of absence are introduced and several existing leaves have been amended.

  • Leave for Court or Jury Duty: Employees are entitled to leave to act as witnesses or jurors, or to participate in a jury selection process.
  • Personal Leave: Every employee is entitled to five days of personal leave per calendar year for the purposes of treating illness or injury, carrying out responsibilities related to the health or care of any family member, carrying out responsibilities related to the education of any family member who is under 18 years of age, addressing any urgent matter concerning themselves or their family members, attending their citizenship ceremony or any other reason prescribed by regulation.
  • Leave for Victims of Family Violence: Employees who are the victims of family violence, or parents of victims of family violence, are entitled to 10 days of leave per calendar year.
  • Medical Leave: Previous sick leave provisions are now classified as medical leave. An employee is entitled to such leave for up to 17 weeks as a result of personal illness or injury, organ or tissue donation, or medical appointments during working hours.
  • Leave for Traditional Aboriginal Practices: Aboriginal employees who have completed three months of continuous service are entitled to five days of unpaid leave per year to for the purpose of engaging in traditional practices.

The implementation of these labour reforms has left many employers facing uncertainty as the federal government is still working to finalize who will be exempt from the amended provisions. While airline, transportation, and telecommunication companies have requested such exemptions, the extent to which exemptions or delays will be granted remains to be seen. The team at CCPartners will keep you update on all further developments as they become available.

It is important that federally regulated employers take steps to ensure that your workplace policies and practices are compliant with the newly effective changes. If you have questions or concerns about what the new amendments to the Canada Labour Code, the lawyers  at CCPartners can assist you in responding to the legislative changes. 

Click here  to access CCPartners’ “Lawyers for Employers” podcasts on important workplace issues and developments in labour and employment law and be on the lookout for an upcoming episode on these recent developments!

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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