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Federal employers – significant changes to the Canada Labour Code to come into force September 1, 2019

Peter McLellan, QC

In the January 18, 2019 article, Change is the only constant – Bill C-86 changes in federal labour and employment regulation, we outlined in detail massive changes to how federal labour and employment relations are regulated and the changes to come into effect on September 1, 2019.

By way of summary:

Hours of work and scheduling

Numerous new employee entitlements to rest periods and other changes will become effective September 1, 2019 and include:

  • Unpaid breaks of 30 minutes for every five hours of work (subject to postponement or cancellation in the case of an emergency and must be paid if the employer requires the employee to be available for work during the 30 minute period; managers and certain professionals are excluded);
  • Nursing breaks – an employee who is nursing may take any unpaid breaks necessary to nurse or express breast milk (no medical or other certificate will be required);
  • Eight hour rest periods – an employee must be granted a rest period of at least 8 consecutive hours between work periods or shifts (the rest period can be postponed or shortened if the employee must work to deal with an unforeseeable emergency; managers and certain professionals are excluded);
  • 24 hours’ notice of shift change – employers must provide 24 hours’ written notice of any change or addition to a work period or shift (this requirement will not apply if a change is necessary to deal with an unforeseeable emergency or as a result of the employee’s request for a flexible work arrangement; managers and certain professionals are also excluded);
  • 96 hours’ advance notice of schedule – employers must provide 96 hours’ written notice of an employee’s work schedule (this requirement will not apply in specified circumstances such as an unforeseeable emergency or where a Collective Agreement provides otherwise or the scheduling change results from the employee’s request for flexible work arrangements; managers and certain professionals are also excluded).

As noted above, and in our earlier article, after six consecutive months of employment, employees will have the right to request flexible work arrangements, including a change to work, work schedule, location and other terms to be prescribed (an employer must respond in writing within 30 days and may refuse such request on specified grounds; changes can only be made for unionized employees if agreed to in writing by the employer and the union).

Leaves

The amendments to the leave provisions will also become effective on September 1, 2019. As described in our previous Client Update, this means that federal employees will be entitled to family violence leaves, jury duty or court leaves, personal responsibility leaves and medical leaves.

As well, the minimum length service requirement has been eliminated for entitlement to sick leave (now called medical leave), maternity and parental leave, leave related to critical illness and leave related to death or disappearance of a child.

Vacations and holidays

On September 1, 2019 minimum vacation entitlements will be increased to the following:

  • After one year – two weeks of 4% vacation pay (unchanged);
  • After five years – three weeks and 6% vacation pay (currently after six years);
  • After 10 years – four weeks and 8% vacation pay (new entitlement)

Annual vacation may now also be taken in more than one period.

Additionally, an employee may interrupt or postpone a vacation in order to take another leave of absence including compassionate care leave, family responsibility leave, maternity leave, parental leave, leave for victims of family violence, leave for traditional Aboriginal practices or bereavement leave. An employee may also interrupt vacation to be absent from work due to illness or injury.

Be prepared

These changes (and others to come as outlined in our earlier Client Update) will have significant impact for employers governed by the Canada Labour Code.


This update is intended for general information only regarding the changes coming into effect on September 1, 2019. Should you have questions on the above or how we can assist on these changes, please contact a member of our Labour & Employment group.

 

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