Labour Program: Current and future legislative and regulatory changes

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

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A number of amendments to the Canada Labour Code will be coming into force in the period from 2017 to 2021. Get the latest information (for example consultations, reports, events and announcements) on legislative and regulatory changes affecting federally regulated workplaces.

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Timeline for legislative and regulatory changes

Labour standards

Canadians deserve to have fair working conditions, to be paid properly and to enjoy work-life balance. Find out about current and future legislative and regulatory changes to standard hours, wages, annual vacations and holidays.

Modern labour standards

On December 13, 2018, legislation concerning modern labour standards received Royal Assent. We are modernizing federal labour standards to better protect Canadian workers and help employers recruit and retain employees. The changes to the labour standards aim to:

  • improve employee eligibility for entitlements
  • improve work-life balance
  • ensure fair treatment and compensation for employees in precarious work
  • ensure sufficient notice and compensation when jobs are terminated
  • improve administration of labour standards

Improvements to eligibility

Requirements for length of service (effective September 1, 2019)

Employees no longer need to have completed a minimum period of employment with their employer to receive:

  • general holiday pay
  • medical leave (formely sick leave)
  • maternity and parental leave
  • leave related to critical illness, and
  • leave related to death or disappearance of a child

The requirements for length of service were reduced:

  • from 6 to 3 months for leave for members of the reserve force
  • from 6 to 5 years for 3 weeks of annual vacations with pay

More information on leave of absence.

Work-life balance

Amendments to address challenges of work-life balance due to lack of control over time and scheduling conflicts

Leaves (effective September 1, 2019)

Employees now have:

  • personal leave of up to 5 days (first 3 days paid for employees with at least 3 months of service)
  • leave for traditional Indigenous practices up to 5 days
  • leave for victims of family violence of up to 10 days (first 5 days paid for employees with at least 3 months of service)
  • 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
  • bereavement leave of up to 5 days (first 3 days paid for employees with at least 3 months of service)
  • access to medical leave (formerly sick leave) for appointments and organ or tissue donation

More information on leave of absence.

Annual vacations and general holidays (effective September 1, 2019)

Employees now have more flexibility with respect to annual vacations:

  • may take vacation in more than one period (if employer agrees)
  • may postpone or interrupt if eligible for another leave
  • may substitute another day for a general holiday
  • required length of service to qualify for 3 weeks of paid annual vacations now 5 years instead of 6
  • 4 weeks of annual vacations with pay after 10 years of service

More information on balancing work and home life

Hours of work and overtime (effective September 1, 2019)

Employees can benefit from more predictable schedules and greater control over their hours of work.

Employees can:

  • agree with their employer to be compensated for overtime with paid time off in lieu of overtime pay
  • refuse overtime work, in limited circumstances, to deal with family responsibilities
  • request flexible work arrangements including changes to hours of work, work schedules or location of work

Employers must provide employees, subject to exceptions, with:

  • a 24-hour written notice of a shift change
  • 96-hour written notice of an employee’s schedule
  • a 30-minute break every 5 hours
  • an 8-hour rest period between work periods or shifts

More information on balancing work and home life

Other breaks (effective September 1, 2019)

Employees can take additional breaks from work in specific circumstances.

Employees are entitled to:

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

More information on Federal labour standards.

Fair treatment and compensation

Workers in non-standard employment and precarious work get protections to prevent unfair wage differences.

Equal treatment (effective 2020 or later)


  • may not pay an employee a lower rate of wages than another employee due to a difference in their employment status (casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees)
  • must inform all employees of employment and promotion opportunities, regardless of their employment status
  • may not retaliate against an employee requesting review of wages
  • may not reduce an employee’s rate of wages to comply with their obligations
  • must, on written request, review an employee’s rate of wages and provide a written response within 90 days


  • may make a wage recovery complaint

More information on Modernizing Labour Standards.

Temporary help agency employees (effective 2020 or later)

Temporary help agency employees are:

  • protected from unfair practices such as being charged a fee for being assigned work

Temporary help agencies may not:

  • pay their employees a lower rate of wages than an employee of the client performing substantially the same work
  • charge a fee to a person to become its employee, for assigning them to perform work for a client or for establishing an employment relationship with a client
  • retaliate against an employee requesting a review of wages.

Clients of a temporary help agency may not:

  • reduce one of their employee’s rate of wages in order for the agency to comply with these obligations.

More information on modernizing labour standards

Information for employees (effective 2020 or later)

Employers must:

  • provide employees with information about their labour standards rights and entitlements
  • provide employees with a statement of their terms and conditions of employment

More information on modernizing labour standards

Reimbursement of work-related expenses (effective 2020 or later)


  • are entitled to the reimbursement of reasonable work-related expenses
  • make a complaint with the Labour Program to recover unpaid amounts

More information on modernizing labour standards

Other changes

Effective September 1, 2019

  • Continuity of employees’ length of service in cases of contract retendering or transfer from provincially regulated employer

Effective 2020 or later

  • Minimum age for work in hazardous occupations increases from 17 to 18 years of age
  • Employers may not misclassify an employee to avoid obligations under the Canada Labour Code.

More information on modernizing labour standards

Financial security when a job is terminated

Amendments to support employee financial security and transition when their job is terminated.

Termination (effective 2020 or later)

Employers must:

  • for group terminations, provide 16 weeks’ notice or pay in lieu, or a combination of notice and pay in lieu
  • for termination of fewer than 50 employees, provide from 2 weeks’ notice or pay in lieu (for employees who have at least 3 months of continuous employment) to 8 weeks notice or pay in lieu (after 8 years of continuous employment)

More information on modernizing labour standards

Administration and enforcement of labour standards

Several technical amendments improve the administration and enforcement of federal labour standards.

Recovering unpaid wages (effective April 1, 2019)

Employees now benefit from improved processes to recover unpaid wages:

  • longer period may be covered by a payment order
  • administrative fees added to payment orders given to employers
  • orders to recover amounts from debtors of directors of a corporation
  • additional powers related to complaint investigations

Effective July 29, 2019:

  • There is a limit on filing multiple complaints on the same issue
  • Conditions for disclosing a complainant’s name have been clarified
  • Rules on the treatment of abandoned complaints
Reprisal protections (effective July 29, 2019)
  • There is improved protection against reprisals for employees whose employer has retaliated against them for exercising their rights under Part III of the Canada Labour Code


Working to address issues related to unpaid internships and labour standards protections is part of our plan to increase the number of good quality jobs for younger workers.

Interns and unpaid student interns (effective 2020 or later)

Subject to some exceptions (see below), interns are:

  • entitled to full labour standards protection, and
  • must be paid at least the minimum wage

Student interns who are fulfilling the requirements of an educational program through work-integrated learning may be unpaid, but are entitled to certain labour standards protections, such as:

  • maximum hours of work
  • weekly day of rest
  • general holidays

More information on the proposed regulations

Expert panel

Establishment of an independent Expert Panel to study the more complex workplace issues facing Canadian employers and workers.

An independent expert panel on modern federal labour standards

Their mission is to examine five key issues related to the changing nature of work:

  • federal minimum wage
  • labour standards protections for non-standard workers
  • disconnecting from work-related e‑communications outside of work hours (sometimes known as the “right to disconnect”)
  • access and portability of benefits
  • collective voice for non-unionized workers

For more information, visit Expert Panel on Modern Federal Labour Standards.

Wage fairness

All Canadians should be treated fairly and paid properly for the work they do.

Wage Earner Protection Program

Employees will benefit from improvements to the program.

Since December 13, 2018

  • Employment Insurance insurable earnings increased from four weeks to seven weeks’ maximum payment.
In 2020, eligibility for the program will be more equitable.

Learn about the changes to the Wage Earner Protection Program.

Pay equity (effective 2020)

The current complaint-based approach will be replaced with a new proactive pay equity system. This will benefit both employees and employers in the federal jurisdiction.

The new Pay Equity Act wil change how the right to pay equity is protected in federally regulated workplaces. It will direct employers to take proactive steps to ensure that they are providing equal pay for work of equal value.

Learn about the proactive pay equity legislation receiving royal assent.

Occupational health and safety

Current and future legislative and regulatory changes for occupational health and safety.

Standards on use of protection equipment and other preventive measures (effective July 10, 2019)

Standards have changed on the use of protection equipment and other preventive measures of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. Safety equipment and practices are now up to industry standards for federally regulated employees.

Read about the changes.

Harassment and violence in the workplace (effective 2020)

A new regime will ensure that federally regulated workplaces and Parliament Hill are free from harassment and violence.

Read the Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations – What We Heard report.

Related information

Join the conversation




What We Heard: Modernizing Labour Standards - Transcript

We engaged with thousands of Canadians to ask you one big question.

(Text appears on screen: "What should modern federal labour standards look like?")

What should modern federal labour standards look like?

And here's what you had to say:

You said that the world is changing and so is the workplace.

You asked for improved access to leaves and annual vacation, additional support for better work-life balance, better protection for employees in non-standard employment, updated rules for when employment is terminated, and good wages and benefits.

Thank you for your feedback, Canada!

(Text appears on screen: "Thank you".)

We heard what you had to say, and we will continue to work with you to improve workplace conditions for a better future for Canadian workers.

(Various photos of federally regulated employees and the title "Modernizing Labour Standards" appear on screen.)

(Hashtag appears on screen: "#LabourStandards".)

Read the full report and join the conversation!

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