Strengthening and modernizing the Canada Labour Code: Labour Standards questions and answers

This document addresses questions raised by stakeholders concerning recent amendments to Part III of the Canada Labour Code (the Code). It is not a complete list of the new labour standards provisions that came into force on September 1, 2019.

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General

1. What type of situation would be considered an unforeseeable emergency?

In an unforeseeable emergency, employers do not have to follow the requirements for:

  • the 30-minute break
  • 8-hour rest period
  • 96-hour notice of schedules
  • 24-hour written notice of a shift change, and
  • the limited right to refuse overtime

Answer

This would be a situation that:

  • the employer could not have reasonably foreseen, and
  • that presents or could reasonably be expected to present an imminent or serious:
    • threat to the life, health or safety of any person
    • threat of damage to or loss of property, or
    • threat of serious interference with the ordinary working of the employer’s industrial establishment

Refer to the relevant Interpretations, policies and Guidelines (IPGs) for more information:

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

2. Who can issue certificates as a health care practitioner?

Answer

Examples of health care practitioners who can issue certificates:

  • medical doctors
  • psychologists
  • nurse practitioners
  • physiotherapists
  • chiropractors
  • midwives

These practitioners and others can issue certificates as long as they are recognized practitioners in the province in which they perform those services.

The health care practitioner must be qualified to deal with the health matter in question. For example, a chiropractor could issue a certificate for an employee’s need for leave to treat a spinal problem, but not for cancer or a heart condition.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

Hours of work (Division I)

3. When must an employer allow an employee a 30-minute break?

Answer

With some exceptions, employees are entitled to a 30-minute unpaid break if they work for 5 consecutive hours. The 30-minute break must be taken before the 5 consecutive hours of work are completed—for example, 4.5 hours of work and a 30-minute break. The 30-minute break cannot be divided into shorter breaks.

Refer to the relevant Interpretations, policies and Guidelines (IPGs) for more information:

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

4. When must the 8-hour rest period begin?

Answer

With some exceptions, the 8-hour rest period must begin at least 8 hours before the employee’s next work period or shift begins.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

5. When an employee works a split shift, is an 8-hour rest period required between the 2 parts of the shift?

Answer

No, but the employee must be given a rest period of at least 8 hours after the end of the last part of the shift.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

6. Can the employer require an employee to work additional hours if it would result in a rest period of fewer than 8 hours between shifts?

Answer

No, unless the employee must work to deal with an unforeseeable emergency.

Refer to the relevant Interpretations, policies and Guidelines (IPGs) for more information:

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

7. If a shift or work period ends in a location away from home, can an employer allow an employee to work additional hours and postpone the rest period in order to get back home?

Answer

No, unless the employee is required to work to deal with an unforeseeable emergency. In some cases, it may also be possible to extend an employee’s shift before it ends (such as work overtime) to allow the employee to get back home.

The requirement to provide a rest period does not prevent an employee from travelling as a passenger in a vehicle of the employer at the end of a shift or work period, as long as the employee does not perform any work for the employer.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

8. If an employer does not give an employee 96 hours’ notice of their work schedule, is this a violation of Part III of the Code? What are the consequences for the employer of not giving this notice?

Answer

Not giving 96 hours’ notice of a work schedule is not a violation of the Code. However, an employee has the right to refuse to work any shift that starts with less than 96 hours notice of receiving the schedule.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

9. Does the new requirement for employers to provide 96 hours’ notice of work schedules apply to unionized employees?

Answer

In general, this requirement applies to unionized and non-unionized employees. However, a collective agreement can provide for a different notice period. Parties to a collective agreement can also agree that this notice requirement does not apply to these employees.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

10. Does the requirement for employers to provide 96 hours’ notice of work schedules apply to employees before their first day of employment?

Answer

No. A new employee who has agreed to report for their first day of work within 96 hours of becoming an employee does not have the right to refuse a shift or work period for that day.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

11. Can an employee refuse to work overtime hours that were added to a shift or work period with less than 24 hours’ notice?

Answer

No. An employee does not have the right to refuse work because their employer did not give them 24 hours’ notice of a shift change.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

12. Can the employer and employee agree that notice be provided by telephone when the employee is travelling or working in a remote area?

Answer

Several new provisions in the Code, including notice of work schedules and shift changes, require that the employee be notified in writing.

As a rule, written notice is required. However, the employer may provide notice by phone if there is no reasonable way to deliver a written notice.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

13. Does written notice include email communications and text messages?

Answer

Yes. The employer should keep a record of any such communications for a period of at least 36 months after the date of termination of employment. 

14. Can employees request that their employer provide them with time off in lieu of overtime pay when they work overtime hours? If so, is the employer required to grant that request?

Answer

The Code clarifies that an employee and an employer can agree in writing to compensate overtime work with time off with pay, equivalent to 1.5 hours of time off at the employee’s regular rate of wages for each overtime hour. The Code also sets additional requirements, including the period within which any time off is to be scheduled.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

15. Can an employer require that an employee be compensated by time off in lieu of overtime pay?

Answer

No.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

16. Does the Code give employees the right to refuse overtime?

Answer

The Code provides employees a limited right to refuse overtime in order to fulfil a family responsibility related to the health or care of a family member, or the education of a family member who is under 18 years of age. However, the employee must first take reasonable steps to deal with these responsibilities some other way. For example: An employee, able to show that he exchanged text messages with members of his family to try to get them to pick up his child from daycare by 6:00 p.m., but no members of the family was available.

The employee can refuse overtime only if there is no reasonable alternative to fulfilling the family responsibility. An employee who is required to work because of an unforeseeable emergency does not have the right to refuse overtime.

Refer to the relevant Interpretations, policies and Guidelines (IPGs) for more information:

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

17. Can the right to refuse overtime be exercised as soon as an employee’s hours of work start exceeding the scheduled shift?

Answer

Not necessarily. The right to refuse overtime applies only to hours of work that exceed standard hours of work under the Canada Labour Code or its regulations.

In general, the Code defines standard hours of work as 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week. This means that a typical employee can refuse to work only once they have worked more than 8 hours in a day or more than 40 hours in a week. However, different standard hours of work apply in some cases:

  • employees covered by a modified work schedule: standard hours of work per day and/or per week specified in the schedule (for example, 10 hours per day, 80 hours every 2 weeks)
  • employees working under an averaging period: standard hours of work equal 40 times the number of weeks in the averaging period, minus certain hours for paid leaves and working days for which the employee is not entitled to wages during that period. See sections 6(7) and (8) of the Canada Labour Standards Regulations
  • bus operators: standard hours of work are 8 per day and 40 per week. This does not include time when the bus is in a garage or parked and the employee is not required to stay with it
  • city motor vehicle operators: standard hours of work are 9 per day and 45 per week
  • Highway motor vehicle operator: standard hours of work are 60 per week
  • commission-paid salespeople in the banking and broadcasting industries: these employees are exempt from standard hours of work provisions and do not have the right to refuse overtime
  • railway running-trades employees: yardmasters, assistant yardmasters, locomotive engineers, locomotive firemen (helpers), hostlers, train conductors, train baggage men, brakemen, yard foremen, yardmen, switch tenders and car retarder operators are exempt from standard hours of work provisions and do not have the right to refuse overtime
  • east coast and Great Lakes shipping employees: standard hours of work are 8 per day and shall not exceed 12 per day for employees who are entitled to at least 1.13 lay-days for each day on board a ship
  • west coast shipping employees: standard hours of work are 12 per day for employees who are entitled to at least 1.13 lay-days for each day on board a ship

Standard hours of work for a week are reduced by the standard hours of work for each general holiday that occurs in that week (normally 8 hours for each holiday).

Refer to the relevant Interpretations, policies and Guidelines (IPGs) for more information:

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

18. Are all employees covered by the Code’s new hours of work provisions?

Answer

No. Employees who are managers or superintendents or exercise management functions, architects, dentists, engineers, lawyers and medical doctors do not have the right to refuse overtime under the Code and do not need to be provided notice of schedule or shift changes. They are also excluded from the 30-minute break and 8-hour rest requirements. However, they are entitled to the new break for medical reasons and the nursing break.

Refer to the relevant Interpretations, policies and Guidelines (IPGs) for more information:

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

19. How do new provisions for hours of work interact with Transport Canada’s industry-specific regulations about hours of service?

Answer

Transport Canada’s regulations governing hours of service for transportation industries, including aviation, motor vehicles, railways and shipping, are generally aimed at addressing public safety issues, including fatigue management

Employers must meet their obligations under the Canada Labour Code and under Transport Canada regulations

Flexible work arrangements (Division I. 1)

20. Can an employee request a pay raise or a promotion from their employer as part of a request for flexible work arrangements?

Answer

No. This provision only allows an employee to make a request for a change to:

  • the number of hours that they are required to work
  • their work schedule; and
  • their location of work

Future regulations may create additional changes.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

21. Are there any limits to the number of requests for flexible work arrangements that an employee can submit to their employer in a year?

Answer

No. There is currently no limit to the number of requests that an employee can submit in any given period.

Some restrictions could be set by regulation in the future.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

22. For what reasons can an employer refuse an employee’s request for flexible work arrangements? What information must the employer provide to the employee to justify a refusal?

Answer

An employer can refuse to grant a request (or part of a request) for any of the following reasons:

  • the requested change would lead to 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, on the ability to meet customer demand or on any other aspect of performance
  • the employer is unable to reorganize work among employees or to recruit additional employees to manage the requested change, or
  • there would be insufficient work available for the employee if the requested change was granted

An employer cannot grant a request if doing so would contravene the law. In some cases, agreement of the employee’s union may be necessary before a change can be granted.

The employer must respond to the employee’s request by providing a written notice of the decision as soon as possible, and no later than 30 days after receiving the request. This written notice of the decision must include reasons for refusing the requested change or for refusing part of it.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

23. Can an employee whose request for a flexible work arrangement was refused by their employer file a complaint to have the decision reversed by the Labour Program?

Answer

An employee may make a complaint with the Labour Program only if their employer has refused the requested change for a reason that is not referred to in the Code or has failed to provide a written response within 30 days.

Although an inspector can ask an employer to comply with the requirement to respond to an employee’s request with appropriate written reasons, the Labour Program has no power to order that an employer change an employee’s work arrangements.

24. Can an employee request a compressed work schedule of 10 hours per day, 40 hours per week under the new right to request flexible work arrangements? If so, will overtime be payable only for time worked over 10 hours in a day?

Answer

An employee can exercise their right to request flexible work arrangements under the Code to request a compressed work week or any other type of modified work schedule.

However, in order for such a modified work schedule to be established–and for overtime to apply after 10 hours of work in a day–the conditions set out in section 170 of the Code must also be met:

  • If the employee is covered by a collective agreement, the modified work schedule must be approved in writing by the employer and the employee’s union
  • If the employee is not covered by a collective agreement, the modified work schedule must be approved in writing by the employee and the employer. (Since the schedule change is due to a request for flexible work arrangements, the employer is not required to post a notice of the schedule in the workplace, or to wait 30 days before it can come into effect.)

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

25. Can an employee request a modified work schedule under which they work a 4-week cycle, with 60 hours of work per week for the first 3 weeks (exceeding the weekly 48-hour maximum), and a week off in the fourth week?

Answer

Yes, an employee could request such a schedule as a flexible work arrangement.

However, in order for such a modified work schedule to be established, the conditions set out in section 172 of the Code must also be met:

  • If the employee is covered by a collective agreement, the modified work schedule must be approved in writing by the employer and the employee’s union
  • If the employee is not covered by a collective agreement, the modified work schedule must be approved in writing by the employee and the employer. (Since the schedule change is due to a request for flexible work arrangements, the employer is not required to post a notice of the schedule in the workplace, or to wait 30 days before it can come into effect)

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

26. Can an employee request to substitute a general holiday for another day off as part of the new right to request flexible work arrangements?

Answer

Yes. An employee can exercise their right to request flexible work arrangements under the Code to request the substitution of a holiday.

However, the conditions set out in section 195 of the Code must also be met:

  • If the employee is covered by a collective agreement, the substitution of holidays must be approved in writing by the employer and the employee’s union
  • If the employee is not covered by a collective agreement, the modified work schedule must be approved in writing by the employee and the employer. (Since the schedule change due to of a request for flexible work arrangements, the employer is not required to post a notice of the substitution in the workplace, or to wait 30 days before it can come into effect)

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

27. Does the new right to request flexible work arrangements apply to all employees, including managers and professionals?

Answer

Yes. This new right applies to all employees covered by Part III of the Code, as long as they have completed at least 6 consecutive months of continuous employment with their employer.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

28. As part of a flexible work arrangement request, can an employee ask to work more than the maximum hours of work under the Code?

Answer

No. The employee cannot use a flexible work arrangement request to avoid legal obligations. In this situation, the employee could make a request for modified work or averaging work schedule.

Refer to the relevant Interpretations, policies and Guidelines (IPGs) for more information:

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

29. Can an employee request to change a term or condition of employment that is part of their collective agreement?

Answer

Yes, but an employer does not have the right to change a term or condition of employment contained in a collective agreement without the written agreement of the employee’s union. If the union does not agree, the employer cannot grant the request.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

30. What if the trade union does not agree to a change requested by an employee: does this justify refusing the request?

Answer

Yes. Where a change requires the written agreement of the applicable trade union, and such agreement is not given, the employer cannot grant the requested change.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

31. If the union does not respond within 30 days, can the employer take more than 30 days to respond to the employee?

Answer

No. If the employer is willing to agree to the request, they should respond to the employee in writing giving conditional approval within 30 days of receiving the request. The employer should state that the change will take effect only once it has been approved by the union in writing.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

Breaks for medical reasons or nursing (Division II. 1)

32. Can an employer refuse to grant breaks for medical reasons or nursing breaks in case of unforeseeable emergency?

Answer

No.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

33. Are employees who are managers or superintendents or exercise management functions or professionals excluded from breaks for medical reasons and nursing breaks?

Answer

No. All employees covered by Part III of the Code can take these breaks, as long as they provide a valid certificate from a health care practitioner or are nursing a child.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

General holidays (Division V)

34. On a general holiday, how much must be paid in holiday pay to an employee who has been employed for under 4 weeks?

Answer

The formula for calculating holiday pay remains unchanged: employees are entitled to at least 1/20th of the wages, excluding overtime pay, which they earned in the 4-week period immediately preceding the week in which the general holiday occurs. In this case, this would include weeks in which the employee earned little or no wages. For example, an employee who earns $300 per day, 5 days per week, but who only worked 2 weeks (10 days) prior to the week of the holiday, would be entitled to $150 in holiday pay ($300/day x 10 days ÷ 20).

(A different formula is used for some longshore employees working for multi-employer units. They are entitled to 3.5% of their basic rate of wages as holiday pay).

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

Maternity-related reassignment leave and other leaves (Division VII)

35. For what reasons can an employee take the new personal leave?

Answer

  • to treat a personal illness or injury (in addition to medical leave)
  • to carry out responsibilities related to the education of a family member who is under 18 years of age
  • to carry out responsibilities related to the health or care of a family member
  • to address an urgent matter concerning the employee or a family member
  • to attend the employee’s own citizenship ceremony

Under the new personal leave provision, an employee is entitled to take up to 5 days of leave per calendar year. The first 3 days of leave must be paid if the employee has completed at least 3 consecutive months of continuous employment. Personal leave is in addition to medical leave and other leaves provided for under the Code.

Refer to the relevant Interpretations, policies and Guidelines (IPGs) for more information:

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

36. Is there a minimum number of days of notice that an employee must provide before taking personal leave? 

Answer

No. However, an employee should give the employer as much notice as possible. The notice must be in writing and must provide the reason for the leave and the length of the leave.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

37. If it is impossible for an employee to provide written notice to the employer before the start of a leave, is the employee still entitled to the leave?

Answer

Yes. Under the Code, employees must make every effort to give the employer written notice before the start of the leave, but if this is not possible, they can provide notice, as soon as possible, after the leave begins.

38. Can an employer ask an employee for documentation to prove entitlement to a personal leave—for example, a certificate from a health care practitioner or a note from a school official?

Answer

Yes. The employer may ask the employee in writing, no later than 15 days after the employee’s return to work, for documentation to support the reason for the leave. However, the employee is required to provide the documentation only if it is reasonably feasible for them to get it.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

39. What is considered a responsibility related to the education of a family member under the age of 18 years?

Answer

Activities such as, but not limited to:

  • attending parent-teacher interviews and meetings
  • meeting with education specialists to optimize the child’s development
  • meeting with a school counsellor or principal to discuss behavioural challenges at school
  • accompanying a student with special needs to ensure he or she can participate in an educational activity
  • attending a school orientation or registration meeting

Refer to the relevant Interpretations, policies and Guidelines (IPGs) for more information:

40. What is considered a responsibility related to the health or care of an employee’s family member?

Answer

Activities such as, but not limited to:

  • accompanying the family member to an appointment with a health care practitioner
  • accompanying the family member to a surgery
  • accompanying the family member to the hospital or other medical institutions (for example, labs) to undergo scheduled medical tests
  • picking up the family member from school due to an illness, injury or medical emergency
  • taking care of a young child for a day following an unexpected school or day care closure
  • taking care of a sick or injured family member at home
  • making arrangements for a family member’s long-term care
  • helping move an elderly family member into a more suitable residence

Refer to the relevant Interpretations, policies and Guidelines (IPGs) for more information:

41. What is considered an “urgent matter” concerning the employee or a family member for which personal leave can be taken?

Answer

An urgent matter is a situation that will have significant negative consequences unless the employee takes immediate action. Examples of urgent matters that justify taking a personal leave include:

  • dealing with flooding or a fire at home
  • dealing with the aftermath of a serious car accident
  • providing assistance to the police as a witness to a crime
  • waiting at home for a technician to perform urgent work on a heating system (during winter)
  • helping locate a family member who has just been reported as having disappeared

The following would not be examples of urgent matters:

  • attending a graduation ceremony
  • waiting at home for a non-essential service call, such as cable TV installation
  • meeting with a real estate or mortgage agent as part of a house sale/purchase
42. Are all employees entitled to 5 days of personal leave and other leaves under the Code, even if they work part time or for a term?

Answer

Yes.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

43. What does “reasonably practicable” mean?

Answer

Refers to what an employee can do or accomplish considering the investment required to carry out their obligation to their employer. For example, in time, cost and effort.

Refer to the relevant Interpretations, policies and Guidelines (IPGs) for more information:

44. How is “family violence” defined for the purposes of the new leave for victims of family violence?

Answer

Family violence is abusive behaviour toward a family member or toward a partner in an intimate relationship. Abuse can take many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional/psychological and financial abuse, as well as neglect. It may include a single act of violence, or a number of acts that form a pattern of abuse.

For more information, consult Justice Canada About Family Violence.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

45. How much notice must employees who take leave for victims of family violence give their employer?

Answer

An employee who takes leave for victims of family violence must give the employer notice in writing as soon as possible of the reason for the leave and how many days of leave they intend to take. The employee must also notify the employer in writing as soon as possible of any change in the length of the leave that they intend to take.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

46. Can an employer request that an employee provide documentation to prove entitlement to a leave for victims of family violence?

Answer

Yes. The employer may request in writing, no later than 15 days after the employee’s return to work, that the employee provide documentation to support the reason for the leave, such as a certificate from a health care practitioner, a police report or a case number. However, the employee is required to provide such documentation only if it is reasonably feasible for them to get it.

The employee does not need to provide private details about the family violence situation.

Refer to the relevant Interpretations, policies and Guidelines (IPGs) for more information:

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

47. Can an Aboriginal employee take leave for traditional Aboriginal practices other than hunting, fishing or harvesting?

Answer

Yes. The leave can be to take part in any traditional Aboriginal practice. Some examples are traditional cultural or religious ceremonies, language classes, festivals, gatherings and community events.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

48. Can an employer request proof that an employee requesting this leave is Aboriginal?

Answer

Employers can request that an employee provide documentation attesting that they are Aboriginal, which the Code defines as Indian, Inuit or Metis. However, the employee is required to provide such documentation only if it is reasonably feasible for them to get it. If documentation is not available, an employee’s written declaration of Aboriginal identity is acceptable.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

49. Can an employer require proof from an Aboriginal employee that activities for which they intend to take leave for traditional Aboriginal practices are directly related to their culture or community?

Answer

No.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

50. Can an employee who is not Aboriginal request leave for traditional Aboriginal practices, and can their employer grant the leave?

Answer

Yes. Employers can grant the leave to any employee who requests it, but are not obligated to grant it to non-Aboriginal employees.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

51. Can an employer refuse to grant a leave for traditional Aboriginal practices to an employee who the employer believes does not “look” Aboriginal?

Answer

No.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

52. Can the following leaves be divided and taken in shorter periods: personal leave, leave for victims of family violence and leave for traditional Aboriginal practices?

Answer

Yes, but the employer can require that each leave period be at least one full day.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

53. How much is an employee paid per day for bereavement leave, personal leave or leave for victims of family violence?

Answer

The employer must pay the employee's regular rate of wages for the day. If employees’ hours of work vary from day to day or they are paid on a basis other than time (for example, on a commission or mileage basis), an employer must pay a minimum amount as follows:

  • If there is a collective agreement providing a method for calculating the minimum pay: this will be used to calculate the amount payable
  • If there is no collective agreement providing a method for calculating the minimum pay: the employer must pay the average of his daily earnings exclusive of overtime pay for the 20 days he has worked immediately preceding the holiday. Daily earnings include any amounts earned in a day during which the employee has worked, excluding overtime pay. Stand-by pay or other amounts that are not related to actual hours worked are also excluded

For more information, consult section 17 of Canada Labour Standards Regulations.

54. If an employee takes a leave with pay for only part of a day, can the amount of pay for the leave be prorated?

Answer

Yes.

For more information, consult section 17 of Canada Labour Standards Regulations.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

55. If an employee has not completed 3 consecutive months of continuous employment and they take 3 days of unpaid personal leave, then take the 2 remaining personal leave days 2 months later in the same calendar year, will these 2 days be paid?

Answer

No. An employee is only entitled to leave with pay for the first 3 days of personal leave in a calendar year. The same principle applies to paid days of bereavement leave (first 3 days are paid) and leave for victims of family violence (first 5 days are paid).

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

56. Can an employee take more than one type of leave under the Code to deal with the same issue?

Answer

Yes. For example, an employee could take 5 days of personal leave followed by up to 17 weeks of medical leave with respect to the same illness or injury. Similarly, an employee could take both personal leave and leave for victims of family violence to seek psychological and other types of support if their child was harmed during an episode of violence at home.

57. Can an employer decide what type of leave under the Code an employee must take in case of a personal illness?

Answer

No. It is up to the employee to decide which leave to take–whether a personal or medical leave–as long as the employee meets the eligibility requirements.

58. Can an employer tell an employee when they can take a personal leave, leave for victims of family violence or leave for traditional Aboriginal practices?

Answer

No.

59. Can an employer refuse to grant a personal leave or any other leave under the Code because of an unforeseeable emergency or other business reasons?

Answer

No. If the employee qualifies for the leave, it must be granted.

60. Can an employee take a personal leave or other leave with pay on a day on which they would not be working? Would the employer be required to provide a day’s pay in that case?

Answer

No. An employee cannot require their employer to grant them a leave with pay on a day on which they are not scheduled to work. 

There is one exception: an employee can interrupt their annual vacation to take another leave under the Code, including a personal leave, leave for victims of family violence or leave for traditional Aboriginal practices.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

61. Are they any exceptions to the condition that an employer cannot require an employee to provide a certificate to justify a medical leave of under 3 days? Are there any exceptions—for example, if an employee takes off Mondays and Fridays and the employer suspects that the leave is unrelated to health?

Answer

No. The Code does not list any exceptions. Even is the employee takes off Mondays and Fridays and the employer suspects that the leave is unrelated to health.

Refer to the relevant section(s) in the Code:

Notice of intent

62. What is the government notice regarding the “Application of sections 173.01 and 173.1 of the Canada Labour Code to on-call and standby employees” published in February 2020 edition of the Canada Gazette Part I?

Answer

The notice provides the Minister of Labour’s interpretation regarding the application of new scheduling provisions to on-call and standby employees. The new scheduling requirements, which came into force on September 1, 2019, consist of the requirement for an employer to provide 96-hours’ written notice of an employee’s schedule and 24-hours’ written notice of a shift change.

63. According to the notice, how does the requirement for an employer to provide 96 hours’ written notice of schedules apply to on-call and standby employees?

Answer

For the purposes of the notice, on-call or standby periods are like a shift or work period. Where an employer provides an employee with a schedule 96 hours in advance of the first shift of that schedule, and the schedule includes any period where the employee is expected to be on-call or on stand-by, the employer will have provided sufficient notice for the employee to be called in to work on less than 24 hours’ of notice during the on-call or standby periods set out in the schedule.

64. According to the notice, how does the requirement for an employer to provide 24- hours’ notice of shift change apply to on-call and standby employees?

Answer

For the purposes of the notice, on-call or standby periods are like a shift or work period. If the employer changes the on-call or standby period in the schedule, the employer must provide the employee with 24 hours’ written notice of that change. For example, if the schedule provided to the employee indicates the employee is on-call or standby from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on a Monday but the employer wishes to change this on-call period to Sunday instead, the employer must provide 24 hours’ written notice of the change.

65. How do the requirements of the 96-hours’ and 24-hours’ notice provisions interact?

Answer

For situations where employees are required to be on-call or on standby, employers will satisfy the requirements of the 96-hour notice of work schedule and the 24-hours’ notice of shift change if they include any period where the employee is scheduled to be on-call or standby in the work schedule and, as necessary, provide 24-hours’ notice before adding or changing a period where the employee is required to be on-call or on standby.

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