Flexible work arrangements

Notice: Starting September 1, 2019, employees working in federally regulated workplaces will have more options available to help balance work and home life.

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What is a flexible work arrangement

The Canada Labour Code (Code) provides rights and protections for employees working in federally regulated workplaces. Many of these rights and protections help employees balance work and home life.

Flexible work arrangements are changes to an employee’s terms and conditions of employment that allow them opportunities to achieve work life balance.

In addition to the right to request flexible work arrangements, there are other rights and protections covered in the Code that can help employees achieve work life balance. These include existing and new leaves improved bereavement leave, and the substitution of a general holiday for another day.

Benefits of flexible work arrangements

Rights and protections in support of work life balance can benefit both employees and employers by:

Right to request flexible work arrangements  

In general, as long as the employer and the employee agree, a flexible work arrangement can include almost any change that allows the employee greater flexibility to balance work and home life.

However, the right to request flexible work arrangements under the Code only applies to:

  1. employees after 6 months of continuous employment, and
  2. flexible work requests for changes to the employee’s:
    1. number of work hours
    2. work schedule
    3. employee’s location of work

Employees meeting the above criteria and who make written requests for flexible work arrangements are protected from reprisals (for example, termination, demotion) that are a result of their request. See “protection against reprisal” below for more information.

Making a flexible work arrangement request: employee and employer

When an employee exercises their right to request a flexible work arrangement under the Code, both the employee and employer must deal with the request in a certain way.

Reminder: the following applies to requests that meet the criteria mentioned in the “right to request flexible work arrangements” section above.

Employees:

Must make the request to their employer in writing

Employers:

A request may be denied by the employer for one or more of the following decisions:

Making a flexible work arrangement request

Flexible work arrangements help employees balance work and home life while helping employers improve employee attendance and productivity. This is why federally regulated employers are now required to consider employee’s requests for flexible work arrangements without consequence to the employee.

Flexible work arrangements cover

To make a request

Employees must have worked for the same employer for 6 continuous months to be protected when making a request.

In writing, the employee must include:

What happens next

The employer has 30 days to respond and provide one of 4 possible responses in writing:

If the request is denied, justification should be included in the response to the employee.

If an employee believes they have been, for example, dismissed, demoted, suspended, or disciplined for making a request, they may file a complaint to the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (CIRB).

To learn more about your rights and obligations please contact the Labour Program:
Toll-free number: 1-800-641-4049
Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-926-9105
#LabourStandards @Labour_ESDC

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Protections against reprisals

An employer cannot reprimand an employee just because they made a written request, as outlined in the “right to request flexible work arrangements” section above. This protection from reprisal states that employers are prohibited from:

Filing a complaint

If an employee believes they have been reprimanded because they made a request for flexible work arrangements and that request meets the criteria outlined in the “right to request flexible work arrangements” section above, the employee can file a complaint.

The Canada Industrial Relations Board handles all complaints related protections from reprisals.

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