Backgrounder: Flexible work arrangements and modernizing labour standards

Backgrounder

As part of the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2 (Bill C-63), the Government of Canada introduced legislation that includes a comprehensive package of significant amendments to the Canada Labour Code (the Code). The amendments will give federally regulated workers the right to request flexible work arrangements, such as flexible start and finish times and the ability to work from home. These amendments received Royal Assent on December 14, 2017.

Subsequently, the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2 (Bill C-86), introduced further amendments to ensure safe and equitable workplaces where employees’ rights are protected and to support flexibility in the workplace. This includes the obligation to provide advance notice of schedules, changes to improve employees’ eligibility for entitlements, new breaks and increased annual vacations. These amendments received Royal Assent on December 13, 2018.

These amendments to federal labour standards are coming into force in waves. A number of changes have already come into force, while others are scheduled for 2020 and beyond. Visit this webpage for more details.

The following changes come into force on September 1, 2019:

Length of service requirement

The length of time a new employee needs to work before being able to take certain types of leave has been eliminated or reduced for some leaves.

Employees will have access to the following leaves as of their first day of work:

  • general holiday pay
  • medical leave
  • maternity and parental leave
  • leave related to critical illness
  • leave related to death or disappearance of a child

Employees will see the length of service requirements reduced:

  • from 6 months to 3 months for leave for members of the reserve force
  • from 6 years to 5 years to be eligible for 3 weeks of vacation with pay

For more information, see Leave of absence.

New and improved leaves

Employees will have:

  • Personal leave of up to 5 days with 3 days paid
  • Leave for traditional Indigenous practices of up to 5 days
  • Leave for victims of family violence of up to 10 days with 5 of these days paid
  • Leave for court or jury duty for the time necessary to attend court to act as a witness or a juror or participate in a jury selection process
  • Extended bereavement leave from 3 to 5 days with three days paid
  • Improved access to medical leave (formerly sick leave) such as for appointments and organ/tissue donation

For more information, see Leave of absence.

Vacation and general holidays

Employees will have more flexibility when taking annual vacations:

  • Vacation time may be taken in more than one period
  • Vacation time may be postponed/interrupted if eligible for another leave
  • Another day off may be substituted for a general holiday
  • The length of service requirement for 3 weeks of paid vacation will be reduced from 6 years to 5 years
  • Employees can take 4 weeks of vacation with pay after 10 years of service

For more information, see Balancing work and home life.

Hours of work and overtime

Employees will benefit from arrangements common in many federally regulated workplaces.

Employees will have the right to:

  • request overtime as time in lieu
  • refuse overtime work for family responsibilities in limited circumstances
  • request flexible work arrangements including flexible start and finish times and the ability to work from home

Employers must provide employees, subject to exceptions, with:

  • a 24-hour written notice of shift change
  • a 96-hour advance notice of an employee’s schedule
  • 30 minute breaks within every five consecutive hours
  • 8 hour rest periods

For more information, see Balancing work and home life.

Breaks and rest periods

Employees will benefit from arrangements common in many federally regulated workplaces.

Employees will have:

  • unpaid breaks for medical reasons, and
  • unpaid breaks for breastfeeding or expressing breast milk.

For more information, see Federal labour standards.


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