Canada: Reconciling Family And Professional Obligations: What Should An Employer Do?

The Commission des relations du travail (CNT) confirmed in Dannie Bouchard c. 9180-6166 Québec inc. Honda de la Capitale, a decision rendered on January 20, 2015, that employers are not obligated to modify an employee's work schedule to accommodate obligations relating to the care of the employee's child, under neither the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (Quebec Charter) nor the Act Respecting Labour Standards (Act). The ruling is one in a series of decisions in Quebec on the issue of an employer's obligations with respect to the reconciliation of its employees' professional and family obligations.

In this case, the employee had been working for the employer as director of financial services for some years. Several people held this position within the company and their work was scheduled between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. during the week. Directors were given two mornings and one evening off per week, but were required to work four evenings per week.

Before returning from maternity leave, the employee informed her employer that she could only work between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and would not be able to work evenings. The employee could not rely on her parents or her spouse to care for her child and she had trouble finding a daycare that was available both day and night. The employer rejected her request and reminded the employee that she had to respect her schedule.

When she returned to work, the employee refused to sign her work schedule, which included four evenings of work during the week. Furthermore, despite the warnings of her employer, the employee did not respect the schedule established by the employer. Three days after her return to work—a period during which the employer gave her a verbal warning and a written warning—the employer suspended the employee without pay for two weeks for insubordination. The suspension letter given to the employee contained a warning that she would be dismissed if she did not comply with her work schedule. When she returned from her suspension, the employee again ignored the schedule established by the employer. As a result, the employer informed the employee of her dismissal. The employee filed a complaint at the CNT alleging that she had been dismissed illegally and without good and sufficient cause.

Two issues were raised before the CNT:

  • Did the employee exercise a right provided for by the Act; that is, taking leave for family obligations under section 79.7, and was she dismissed following the exercise of this right?
  • Does the employer have an obligation to modify the employee's work schedule to take into account requirements relating to the care of the employee's child, unless this imposes undue hardship on the employer?

The CNT first rejected the employee's claim that she had exercised her right to take leave for family obligations as provided for by the Act. Section 79.7 of the Act stipulates that an employee may be absent up to a maximum of 10 days per year to fulfil obligations related to care.

However, to avail herself of this leave, the employee must advise her employer as soon as possible and must take reasonable steps within her power to limit the leave and the duration of the leave. In this case, family leave to fulfil obligations related to the care of a child and the need for a maximum of 10 days of leave were never discussed between the employee and her employer. On the contrary, the employee was demanding a modification to her work schedule for an indeterminate duration. Furthermore, the employee did not demonstrate that she had taken the reasonable steps within her power to limit the leave and the duration of the leave. Finally, since the employee did not establish that she had exercised a right provided for by the Act, she could not avail herself of section 122 of the Act, which prohibits taking reprisals against an employee who exercises a right provided for by the Act. 

The CNT also rejected the employee's claim that she had been dismissed without good and sufficient cause. The CNT emphasized that the employer had provided sufficient warnings, including a suspension, to allow the employee to understand the possible consequences of refusing to accept the work schedule imposed by the employer. Furthermore, the employee never reconsidered her position and did not seek to find a solution to her problem. Her dismissal was therefore justified.

Finally, the CNT concluded that the employee was not dismissed in violation of section 10 of the Quebec Charter, which prohibits discrimination based on, inter alia, civil status. The Quebec Charter does not specifically prohibit discrimination based on family status. However, the employee submitted that the notion of "civil status," which is a ground for discrimination under the Quebec Charter, should be interpreted to include family status.

According to the CNT, civil status does not include family status. The CNT raised the Québec Court of Appeal's recent decision in Beauchesne c. Syndicat des cols bleus regroupés de Montréal (SCFP-301), in which the court reaffirmed that family status was not included in the "civil status" ground. In that case, the employee, the mother of a child with a disability, had been refused a promotion because she was not available to work evenings and weekends. She claimed that she had been the victim of discrimination based on the grounds of civil status, handicap and the use of any means to palliate a handicap. The court concluded that neither of these grounds applied and that the employee had not been promoted because she was not available to assume the position during all shifts, not because she was a parent. Moreover, the court concluded that the Quebec Charter does not allow a person to rely on the handicap of another person or the use of any means to palliate a handicap for him- or herself.

These decisions reiterate that pursuant to the Quebec Charter, the employer does not have to modify the work schedule of an employee to accommodate the employee's family obligations. That being said, employers should always keep in mind the rights provided for by the Act relating to family leave. Furthermore, the CNT's decision is a reminder of the importance of progressively disciplining employees before taking the ultimate disciplinary measure; dismissal.

It is interesting to note that contrary to what is stipulated in the Quebec Charter, the Ontario Human Rights Code explicitly provides protection for "family status." Furthermore, the Federal Court's recent decision in Canada (Procureur général) c. Johnstone confirmed that employers under federal jurisdiction have an obligation to accommodate the family status of their employees.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
26 Oct 2018, Other, Vancouver, Canada

Cybersecurity, including data privacy and security obligations, has become a critical chapter in every company’s risk management playbook.

30 Oct 2018, Other, Toronto, Canada

Please join us for discussions on recent updates and legal developments in pension and employee benefits as well as employment law issues.

12 Nov 2018, Other, Toronto, Canada

Stories aren’t falsehoods. Stories are the root of all effective human communications: they motivate, animate and clarify. If you aren’t telling stories, you probably aren’t getting your point across.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions