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Changes to the Canada Labour Code (“CLC” or “Code”) are effective on September 1, 2019.  To ensure compliance, federally regulated employers should review their policies and procedures.

This is part one of a two part series summarizing changes to the Code.  This part focuses on federal employment standards related to vacation, holiday and leave entitlements.  The remaining changes will be summarized in part two.

Changes to Minimum Standards Regarding Vacation and Holidays

An employee can make a written request to take vacation in more than one period. An employee may take certain leaves during their vacation time by providing their employer with written notice. An employee may commence a statutory leave in the middle of a vacation period. The employee’s remaining vacation days are then postponed.

Employees will now be entitled to:

  • 2 weeks of vacation at 4% vacation pay after 1 year of service;
  • 3 weeks of vacation at 6% vacation pay after 5 years of service; and
  • 4 weeks of vacation at 8% vacation pay after 10 years of service.

Moreover, for the purpose of calculating vacation entitlements, an employee’s years of service are transferred in the event of a sale of business which results in the employee working for a federally regulated employer, that was previously provincially regulated. Employees also do not need to be employed for 30 days before receiving statutory holiday pay.

New Leave Standards

Personal Leave: employees are now entitled to up to 5 days for illness, injury, health-related family responsibilities, education-related responsibilities for family members under 18, urgent matters, citizenship conferral, or prescribed reasons. The first 3 days of leave are paid for employees with 3 months’ service. The definition of who qualifies as a family member for the purposes of this leave will be specified in the regulations.

Leave for Victims of Family Violence: an employee who is the victim of family violence or who is the parent of a child that is the victim of family violence is entitled to 10 days in a calendar year to seek medical attention for themselves or their child, to obtain services from organizations that aid victims of family violence, to obtain counselling, to relocate temporarily or permanently, to seek legal or law enforcement assistance or prepare for legal proceedings, or to take any measure as prescribed by regulation. The first 5 days of leave are paid for employees with 3 months’ service. An employee who has likely committed the family violence is not entitled to this leave.  An employer can request documentation to substantiate the leave within 15 days of the employee’s return to work.

Leave for Traditional Aboriginal Practices: an Aboriginal employee (defined as Indian, Inuit, or Métis for the purposes of this leave), who has been continuously employed for 3 months may take 5 days per calendar year to hunt, fish, harvest or engage in any other traditional Aboriginal practice prescribed by regulation. The employer may request documentation substantiating that the employee is an Aboriginal person, within 15 days of the employee returning from the leave.

Court or Jury Duty Leave: employees may take leave to act as a witness, juror or to participate in jury selection. The maximum leave period is not specified. There is no service requirement for eligibility.

Existing leave entitlements have been modified as follows:

  • Medical Leave (formerly “Sick Leave”): employees are now eligible for up to 17 weeks of unpaid leave for personal illness or injury, organ or tissue donation, or medical appointments during work hours. There is no service requirement for eligibility. An employer may require a health care practitioner’s certificate for an absence of 3 days or longer. The pension, health and disability benefits and the seniority of an employee who is absent from work due to medical leave, accumulate during the entire period of the medical leave of absence.
  • Maternity and Parental Leave: the minimum service requirement for eligibility has been removed. New parents have an additional 8 weeks of aggregate parental leave if leave is taken by the second parent.
  • Bereavement Leave: employees may now take 3 days of paid bereavement leave and 2 days of unpaid leave for an immediate family member’s death to be taken from the day of the death until six weeks after the funeral, burial, or memorial service (whichever occurs the latest).
  • Reservist Leave: employees can take a maximum leave period of 24 months in a 60-month period. There is a 3 months’ service requirement for eligibility.