Flexible work arrangements for federally regulated employees
On this page
- What is a flexible work arrangement
- Benefits of flexible work arrangements
- Right to request flexible work arrangements
- Making a flexible work arrangement request
- Protections against reprisals
- Filing a labour standards complaint
- Contact us
The Canada Labour Code (Code) provides rights and protections for employees working in federally regulated workplaces. These rights and protections help employees balance work and home life.
Note: for the purpose of this web page, reference to “employee(s)” also includes persons that are often referred to as “interns”. It excludes “student interns” who are undertaking internships to fulfill the requirements of their educational program.
What is a flexible work arrangement
Flexible work arrangements are changes to an employee’s terms and conditions of employment. This allows them to achieve better work and home life balance.
The Code provides other rights and protections that help employees achieve work life balance, such as:
- existing and new leaves
- improved bereavement leave, and
- substitution of a general holiday for another day
Flexible work arrangements cover:
- the location of work, such as working from home or a satellite location
- the scheduling of work hours, such as modified work schedules or split work shifts
- the number of work hours, such as part time, job shares, reduced hours
Benefits of flexible work arrangements
Rights and protections in support of work life balance can benefit both employees and employers by:
- decreasing employee absences
- improving employee health
- improving satisfaction in the workplace
- improving employee selection and retention, especially:
- among millennials
- more experienced workers, and
- workers with family responsibilities
- creating a workplace that is productive, innovative and effective when completing their daily tasks
Right to request a flexible work arrangement
As an employee, you may exercise your right to request a flexible work arrangement under the Code. A flexible work arrangement can include changes that allows you more flexibility to balance work and home life.
However, the right to request flexible work arrangements under the Code only applies to:
- employees after 6 months of continuous employment, and
- flexible work requests for changes to the employee’s:
- number of work hours
- work schedule
- employee’s location of work
As an employee that meets the above criteria, you can make a written request for flexible work arrangements.
Making a flexible work arrangement request
When making a request for a flexible work arrangement, you must ensure that your request is dealt with in a certain way.
Before you make a request
You must have worked for the same employer for 6 continuous months to be protected when making a request. You must also ensure your request meets the criteria mentioned in the section right to request flexible work arrangements.
Submitting a request
You must submit your request to your employer in writing.
In writing, you must include:
- your name
- date of request
- description of requested arrangements
- requested start and end dates
- expected effects on employer
Once you submit your request
Once you submit your written request, your employer has 30 days to respond and provide 1 of 4 possible responses in writing:
- approve as is
- approve in part
- propose an alternative
Federally regulated employers are required to consider employee’s requests for flexible work arrangements without consequence to the employee. Following your request, you are protected from reprisals (for example, termination, demotion).
If your employer denies your request
If your employer denies your request, they must provide justification for doing so in their response.
Employers may deny a request for one or more of the following reasons:
- the requested change would result in additional costs that would be a burden on the employer
- the requested change would have a negative impact on:
- the quality or quantity of work and the ability to meet customer demand, and/or
- the performance of the employee’s workplace
- the employer cannot reorganize work among existing employees or hire more employees to manage the requested change
- there would not be enough work available for the employee if the requested change was granted
- the requested change does not meet the criteria mentioned in the section right to request flexible work arrangements
Protections against reprisals
An employer cannot reprimand you just because you made a written request for a flexible work arrangement. Protection from reprisal states that employers are prohibited from:
- dismissing, suspending, laying off, demoting or disciplining an employee
- taking the request for a flexible work arrangement into account in any decision to promote or train the employee, or
- threatening to take any of these actions
The Canada Industrial Relations Board handles all complaints related to protections from reprisals.
If you believe you have been, for example, dismissed, demoted, suspended, or disciplined for making a request, you may file a complaint to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB).
Filing a labour standards complaint
As a federally regulated employee, you can file a labour standards complaint if:
- you believe you have been reprimanded because you made a request for flexible work arrangements, and
- your request meets the criteria outlined in the section Right to request flexible work arrangements
To learn more about your labour rights and obligations please consult the Federal labour standards web page.
- Send us an email using our online form
- Contact the nearest regional office of the Labour Program by telephone or mail
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