Backgrounder: Modernizing Labour Standards


The legislation will amend Part III of the Canada Labour Code (Code) to ensure that employees in the federally regulated private sector have a robust and modern set of labour standards that reflects the realities of the 21st century workplace and sets the stage for good quality jobs. The amendments will:

  • Improve employees’ eligibility for entitlements by:
    • eliminating minimum length of service requirements for general holiday pay, sick leave, maternity leave, parental leave, leave related to critical illness and leave related to death or disappearance of a child; and
    • reducing the length of service required to be eligible for three weeks of vacation with pay from 6 years to 5 years.
  • Improve work-life balance by:
    • adding an unpaid break of 30 minutes for every five hours of work, a minimum eight-hour rest period between shifts, and unpaid breaks for breastfeeding or pumping breastmilk, or for medical reasons;
    • requiring employers to provide employees with at least 96 hours’ advance notice of their schedules;
    • adding four weeks of vacation with pay after 10 or more years of service;
    • introducing a new five-day personal leave, of which three days are paid, and five days of paid leave for victims of family violence (out of 10 days in total);
    • improving access to medical leave by allowing it to be taken for medical appointments, clarifying that it covers organ or tissue donation, and only allowing employers to request a certificate for leave of three or more consecutive days; and
    • introducing a new unpaid leave for court or jury duty.
  • Ensure fair treatment and compensation for employees in precarious work by:
    • requiring that casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees are paid equally to their full-time counterparts;
    • protecting temporary help agency employees from unfair practices such as being charged a fee for being assigned work ;
    • requiring employers to provide employees with information about their rights and entitlements and their conditions of employment and entitling all employees to be informed of employment or promotion opportunities;
    • prohibiting employers from treating an employee as if they were not their employee in order to avoid their obligations or to deprive the employee of their rights;
    • treating employees’ length of service as continuous in cases of contract retendering within the federal private sector, or when their employment is transferred from a provincially regulated employer to a federally regulated employer;
    • allowing an employee to seek reimbursement of work-related expenses; and
    • raising the minimum age for work in hazardous occupations from 17 to 18 years of age.
  • Ensure that employees receive sufficient notice and compensation when their jobs are terminated to help protect their financial security by:
    • in situations where 50 or more employees are being terminated, allowing employers to provide pay in lieu of the required 16-week group notice or a combination of notice and pay in lieu and requiring that employees be given eight weeks’ notice of termination or pay in lieu;
    • putting in place a graduated notice of individual termination that will range from two weeks’ notice or pay in lieu of notice or a combination of notice and pay in lieu, for employees with between three months and less than three years of continuous employment to a maximum of eight weeks after eight years of continuous employment; and
    • requiring employers to inform terminated employees about their termination rights.

The legislation also includes a number of technical amendments to improve the administration and enforcement of federal labour standards, including the establishment of a new Head of Compliance and Enforcement and broadening the scope of health-care practitioners who can issue medical certificates. It will also expand the scope of the leave of absence for members of the Reserve Force to include military skills training and limiting the maximum amount of leave that an employee may take to 24 months in any 60-month period.

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