Labour standards protections for interns and student interns

Backgrounder

Legislative amendments

Legislative amendments to Part III (Standard Hours, Wages, Vacations and Holidays) of the Canada Labour Code required supporting regulations before coming into force. The provisions respecting interns were subsequently modified in the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2 (Bill C-63) to limit unpaid internships in the federally regulated private sector to only those that are part of an educational program. These legislative amendments received Royal Assent on December 14, 2017, and recognize interns in two ways:

  1. Interns: individuals seeking to obtain knowledge or experience through a temporary placement in the workplace that is not part of an educational program. They will have the same labour standards protections as employees, including the right to be paid at least the minimum wage.
  2. Student interns: students undertaking temporary placement in the workplace that fulfil the requirements of an educational program. They may be unpaid and will be entitled to certain labour standards protections set out in the new Standards for Work-Integrated Learning Activities Regulations.

All interns, including on Parliament Hill, will be protected from workplace harassment and violence, including sexual harassment, when the legislation, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 (Bill C-65), comes into force on January 1, 2021. Until that time, interns and student interns will be protected under an existing provision of Part III of the Code that covers protection against sexual harassment.

Supporting regulations and coming into force

Following a series of regulatory consultations in 2018, the proposed Standards for Work-Integrated Learning Activities Regulations (the Regulations) were published in Part I of the Canada Gazette on June 8, 2019, and the final Regulations were published in Part II of the Canada Gazette on July 8, 2020. The Regulations and legislative amendments came into force on September 1, 2020.

The Regulations establish:

  • the process for determining when a student internship can be unpaid;
  • the labour standards protections that apply to students interns; and
  • related administrative requirements.

The Regulations specify that the following labour standards protections apply to students interns:

  • a limit of 40 hours/week and 8 hours/day, with at least 1 day of rest per week;
  • the right to a modified work schedule;
  • unpaid 30-minute breaks during every 5 consecutive hours of work;
  • unpaid breaks for medical reasons or nursing;
  • 96 hours’ advance written notice of schedules;
  • 24 hours’ advance written notice of a shift change or addition of a shift;
  • 8-hour rest periods between shifts or work periods;
  • 9 general holidays within each calendar year;
  • maternity-related reassignment;
  • protected leaves (such as personal leave, leave for victims of family violence, leave for traditional Indigenous practices, bereavement leave, medical leave and leave for work-related illness and injury); and
  • protections against genetic discrimination and prohibited reprisals.

Part III of the Canada Labour Code

Part III (Standard Hours, Wages, Vacations and Holidays) of the Code establishes employment conditions such as hours of work, payment of wages, overtime pay, general holidays, protected leaves and rights on termination of employment. It applies to federally regulated workplaces.

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