The Federal Ministry of Employment, Workforce Development and
Labour will soon be concluding a period of consultations with the
general public about flexible work arrangements. In that process,
the Minister has made it clear that changes are coming. They will
affect employers covered by the employment standards provisions of
the Canada Labour Code, which represents a small segment
of the Canadian workforce as it only applies to federal employers
i.e. employers in industries like banking, telecommunications,
aviation, inter-provincial trucking, etc. The employment standards
provisions in the Canada Labour Code do not apply to
workers in the northern Territories as each territory has its own
employment standards legislation.
The theme behind this initiative is described in the paper as
follows: "With the nature of work and society evolving, more
and more Canadians are challenged in finding the right balance
between their work and personal life." The discussion paper
announces that "the Government has pledged to give workers in
federally regulated sectors the right to formally request flexible
work arrangements from their employers... The ability to make these
requests without fear of reprisal will support economic security
for middle class Canadian families and those working hard to join
In the consultations it has been made clear that the
consultations were not about whether to implement flexible work
arrangements, but how to do it. In preparing the legislation, one
challenge will be how to relate this new employer obligation with
the current human rights obligation to avoid discrimination on the
basis of "family status" and "marital status"
which already requires employer accommodation of employee needs in
If you are a federal employer governed by the employment
standards provisions of the Canada Labour Code, you can
expect legislation to come soon which will give employees the right
to demand flexible work arrangements. We can only hope that it will
provide employers with some ability to deny it for good business
reasons. If you are a worker or employer in other labour
jurisdictions in Canada, you might be seeing the start of a
We will update all of you after the legislation is
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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