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Review of Recent Changes to the Canada Labour Code

September 25, 2019

Authors: Dylan Snowdon and Shale Anderson

Review of Recent Changes to the Canada Labour Code

Many changes to the Canada Labour Code came into effect September 1, 2019 that will impact federally regulated employers.  

Vacation time and vacation Pay Minimums have been increased to:

  • 2 weeks annual vacation after one year (4% vacation pay)
  • 3 weeks annual vacation after five years (6% vacation pay)
  • 4 weeks annual vacation after ten years (8% vacation pay)

Termination notice period minimums have also been increased:

  • 3 months = 2 weeks’ notice
  • 3 years = 3 weeks’ notice
  • 4 years = 4 weeks’ notice
  • 5 years= 5 weeks’ notice
  • 6 years = 6 weeks’ notice
  • 7 years = 7 weeks’ notice
  • 8 years = 8 weeks’ notice

Holiday pay has been amended to remove the requirement for minimum continuous service and add an allowance to grant a day-in-lieu if approved by the employee rather than paying a monetary amount.  If a day-in-leiu is agreed, it must be documented at least 30 days before a holiday.

A significant number of protected leaves of absence have been added, making the federally regulated employees similar to those under Alberta’s Employment Standards Code, including:

  • Leave for Victims of Family Violence (up to 10 days, 5 days paid)
  • Leave for Court or Jury Duty (unspecified duration)
  • Personal Leave (up to 5 days, 3 days paid)
  • Traditional Aboriginal Practices (up to 5 days unpaid)
  • Bereavement (up to 5 days, 3 days paid if employee has 3 months continuous service)

Employees become eligible for many protected leaves upon commencement of employment but employers retain the right to request supporting documentation to substantiate a leave of absence.

Employee scheduling is now more prescriptive, with employers needing to provide shift schedules 96 hours in advance and notice of shift changes at least 24 hours in advance, with some limited exceptions.  Breaks and rest periods have also seen substantial changes including increased rest between shifts, defined breaks during shifts, new breaks for medical or nursing reasons. Employees may also now request flexible working arrangements after six months of continuous employment, and those requests may be made for changes concerning hours, location, or schedule.  Employers must respond to flexibility requests within 30 days and must provide reasons if the request is denied.

Pay Equity changes are also being implemented that, when they come into force, will require employees carrying out a substantially similar role to be paid equally.  Employers will have three years to set up their pay equity system.

We recommend that all employers regularly review their policies and procedures to ensure they are both operationally useful and legally compliant.  To ensure your organization is equipped to comply with the new and upcoming requirements, please contact any of our Employment Law Team.