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

This is part two of a two-part series summarizing the changes.  Part one focused on federal employment standards related to vacation, holiday and leave entitlements.  This part summarizes the remaining changes.

Changes effective on September 1, 2019:

Shift Changes

An employer must provide 24 hours’ notice in the event that the employer changes or lengthens an employee’s shift or a period of time an employee is required to work. However, this notice requirement does not apply if the employer must change or lengthen an employee’s shift as a result of a threat to the life, health or safety of a person, a threat of damage or loss to property, or threat of serious interference with the ordinary working of the employer’s industrial establishment that was not reasonably foreseeable.

Overtime

In addition to overtime pay, employees can now opt for paid time off at one and one half their usual wage rate for every overtime hour worked. In order to qualify, there must be a written agreement between the employer and employee specifying the dates on which the paid time off will be taken by the employee. Additionally, the paid time off must be taken within three months of the pay period during which the employee worked the overtime hours. This can only be extended if the collective agreement or written agreement between the employer or employee specifies a longer time period. However, the longer time period cannot be longer than 12 months after the pay period in which the employee worked the over time.

If the employee fails to take the paid time off, the employer must pay out the banked time at one and one half times the regular wage rate of the employee. The employer must make this payment within 30 days of the end of the pay period when the paid time off was supposed to be taken. If an employee has not taken their paid time off and ceases to be employed, the employer must pay out the remaining banked hours at one and one half the employee’s regular wage rate on the day the employee worked the overtime.

Employees may refuse to work overtime if it interferes with any family responsibilities under the new Personal Leave. An employee cannot refuse to work overtime in instances where there is a threat to the life, health or safety of a person, a threat of damage or loss to property, or threat of serious interference with the ordinary working of the employer’s industrial establishment that was not reasonably foreseeable. Employers cannot reprise against employees for refusing to work overtime for this reason.

Flexible Work Arrangements

After working six continuous months with an employer, an employee can request changes, in writing, regarding the number of hours the employee is required to work, their work schedule, their work location or any terms and conditions that apply to the employee that are prescribed by regulation. The employer must make a decision to fully grant the request, partially grant the request or fully refuse the request. A partial or full refusal must be communicated in writing and justified on the following business needs:

  • the request would create additional, burdensome costs for the employer;
  • there would be a deterioration in the quality or quantity of the work and the employer’s ability to satisfy customer demands;
  • the employer could not compensate by reorganizing the work amongst other employees or hiring new employees; and
  • if the employer granted the request, the employee in question would not have enough work.

The employer is not allowed to reprise against an employee for requesting flexible work arrangements.

Health Care Practitioner

The Code has expanded the types of healthcare professionals who can provide medical documentation to employees seeking leaves from work. Employer must accept medical documentation supporting an employee’s need for a leave supplied by a healthcare professional who is lawfully entitled to provide health services in a province.

Breaks and Rest Periods

Employees are entitled to a 30 minute unpaid break for every 5 consecutive hours of work. Employees must also receive 8 consecutive hours of rest between work periods or shifts. However, these break and rest period requirements do not apply if the employer must change or lengthen an employee’s shift as a result of a threat to the life, health or safety of a person, a threat of damage or loss to property, or threat of serious interference with the ordinary working of the employer’s industrial establishment that was not reasonably foreseeable.

Notice of Work Schedule

Employers must provide employees with written notice of their work schedule at least 96 hours before the start of the employees’ first work period or shift. If an employee does not receive notice at least 96 hours beforehand, the employee can refuse to work any work period or shift that starts less than 96 hours after they received notice. However, an employee cannot exercise their right of refusal if the employer fails to provide 96 hours’ notice because of a threat to the life, health or safety of a person, a threat of damage or loss to property, or threat of serious interference with the ordinary working of the employer’s industrial establishment that was not reasonably foreseeable. An employer may not reprise against an employee for exercising their right of refusal.

Breaks for Medical Reasons or Nursing

An employee is entitled to unpaid breaks for medical reasons or nursing as needed. An employer may request medical documentation to substantiate the need for these breaks.

Information Related to Employment

Employers must post the most recent version of any materials that the Minister makes available and that contains information respecting employers’ and employees’ rights and obligations under the CLC. Employers must also, within the first 30 days of employment, provide employees with a copy of such materials.

Changes passed but the effective date has not yet been named:

Age of Employment

The age of employment for work in hazardous occupations has been raised from 17 to 18 years of age.

Equal pay for equal work

As a general rule, pay rate differentials based on “employment status” (i.e. part-time employment) are prohibited. The general rule requires equal pay where employees work in the same industrial establishment under similar working conditions and perform substantially the same kind of work, requiring substantially the same skill, effort and responsibility. Despite the general rule, exceptions permit employers to establish distinct pay rates on the basis of seniority or merit systems, systems measuring the quantity or quality of each employee’s production, or any other prescribed criterion.

Temporary help agency employees will also be entitled to the same pay rate as employees of the client in the circumstances described above. The exceptions described above also apply in the case of temporary agency employees. In addition, actions that deter or prevent an employee from becoming an employee of a client of a temporary help agency are expressly prohibited, including fees charged to the employee or the client for establishing an employment relationship.

Individual Termination

Employees will be entitled to longer notice periods for termination:

Length of Continuous Employment Notice Period
3 consecutive months 2 weeks
3 consecutive years 3 weeks
4 consecutive years 4 weeks
5 consecutive years 5 weeks
6 consecutive years 6 weeks
7 consecutive years 7 weeks
8 or more consecutive years 8 weeks

Group Termination

If 50 or more employees are dismissed from their employment simultaneously or within a four week period, this constitutes a group termination. In the event of a group termination, employers must provide 16 weeks of notice to the Ministry of Labour. The employer must provide immediate notification to the union, and if the employees are non-unionized, the group of employees impacted. Moreover, each employee dismissed during the 16-week group notice period is entitled to eight weeks’ individual notice.

Reimbursement

Employees are entitled to reimbursement of reasonable work-related expenses.

We will continue to monitor the in-force date of the changes not yet in effect.