Changes Coming to the Canada Labour Code and Federally Regulated Workplaces

The Canada Labour Code (the “Code”) prescribes the minimum employment standards for federally regulated workplaces. Under Bill C-86, the federal government recently made several amendments to the Code, concerning minimum termination notice, leave provisions and vacation pay, amongst other things. In addition, other legislative changes were announced that, while not within the framework of the Code, will impact federally regulated workplaces. A summary of these changes is outlined below.

Provision Current Entitlement New Entitlement as of September 1, 2019
Vacation Time and Vacation Pay -2 weeks’ vacation and 4% vacation pay for employees with a minimum of 1 year of continuous service

-3 weeks’ vacation and 6% vacation pay for employees with a minimum of 6 years of continuous service
-2 weeks’ vacation or 4% vacation pay for employees with a minimum of 1 year of continuous service

-3 weeks’ vacation or 6% vacation pay for employees with a minimum of 5 years of continuous service

-4 weeks’ vacation or 8% vacation pay for employees with a minimum of 10 years of continuous service
Holiday Pay 30-day service requirement for an employee to be entitled to holiday pay for a general holiday Elimination of 30-day service requirement for an employee to be entitled to holiday pay for a general holiday
Rest Periods -Unpaid 30-minute break for a work period of five or more consecutive hours (except in the case of an emergency)

-Payment when an employee’s availability is required during the break

-Unpaid breaks that are necessary for the purpose of nursing or for medical reasons
Medical Leave -Unpaid, job-protected Sick leave not exceeding 17 weeks for absence due to illness or injury

-Employees must have worked three consecutive months with the same employer in order to be entitled to this leave
-Existing Sick Leave provisions will be maintained, but renamed “Medical Leave”, which will include leave for personal illness or injury, organ or tissue donation and medical appointments during working hours

-When an absence exceeds 3 days, employers may require employees to provide a medical certificate certifying that the employee was incapable of working for the days that they were absent
Continuous Service Requirements for Other Leaves 6 months of continuous service requirement in order to be entitled to Maternity Leave, Parental Leave, a Leave Related to Critical Illness or a Leave Related to Death or Disappearance   Elimination of 6 months of continuous service in order to be entitled to Maternity Leave, Parental Leave, a Leave Related to Critical Illness or a Leave Related to Death or Disappearance  
Leave for Court or Jury Duty -Unpaid, job-protected leave for court or jury duty, without limitation on the length or the frequency of this leave  

The following provisions are yet to be implemented but we have listed them for your information.

Provision Current Entitlement New Entitlement (implementation date to be determined)
Notice of Individual Termination Minimum of 2 weeks’ written notice or payment of 2 weeks’ regular wages -2 weeks’ notice for employees with a minimum of 3 months of continuous service

-3 weeks’ notice for employees with a minimum of 3 years of continuous service

-4 weeks’ notice for employees with a minimum of 4 years of continuous service

-5 weeks’ notice for employees with a minimum of 5 years of continuous service

-6 weeks’ notice for employees with a minimum of 6 years of continuous service

-7 weeks’ notice for employees with a minimum of 7 years of continuous service

-8 weeks’ notice for employees with a minimum of 8 years of continuous service  
Group Terminations Employers are required to notify the federal Minister of Labour’s office 16-weeks prior to terminating the employment of 50 or more employees within a time period which does not exceed four weeks   In addition to the existing requirements, employers will have to provide at least 8 weeks individual notice to the affected employees
Scheduling Employers will be required to provide employees written notice of their work schedule at least 96 hours before their first work period or shift  
Personal Leave -Employees with 3 months of continuous service will be entitled to 5 days of leave each calendar year, 3 of which must be paid

-Personal Leave may be requested in the following circumstances:
*treating personal illness or injury;
*carrying out responsibilities related to the health or care of any of their family members;
*carrying out responsibilities related to the education of any of their family members who are under 18 years of age;
*addressing any urgent matter concerning themselves or their family members;
*attending their citizenship ceremony under the Citizenship Act;
*and any other reason prescribed by regulation
Victims of Family Violence -Employees with 3 months of continuous employment that are victims of family violence will be entitled to 5 days of paid leave

-The federal government has not yet clarified what will specifically constitute “family violence” for the purposes of this leave  
Unjust Dismissal -Will allow for summary dismissal of a complaint before the Canadian Industrial Relations Board (the “CIRB”)

-If an unsettled manner is not referred to the CIRB for adjudication by the complainant following notification by the Labour Program, inspectors with the Federal Labour Program will be able to consider the complaint withdrawn

-The CIRB will have the authority to suspend a complaint if they conclude the complainant must take additional measures  
Equal Pay -Employees who perform the same work will be paid the same wage, regardless of their part-time, seasonal or casual status, unless there are objective reasons which justify the difference in wage such

-Employees will be entitled to request a review of their wages, and employers will be prohibited from reprising against them for making such requests  
Occupational Health and Safety -Increases the powers of the Head of Compliance and Enforcement within the Ministry of Labour

-In some cases where, previously, the Minister would have been accountable for decisions regarding workplace safety, the Head will now be responsible

-In other cases, the decision can be made by either the Head or the Minister
Parental Sharing Benefit -Additional weeks of Employment Insurance Benefits during parental leave will be available where sharing of such benefits occurs

-The opportunity will be available to parents whose children were born or placed with them for adoption  
Temporary Help Agencies -Temporary help agencies will be subject to several prohibitions such as charging fees to assignment employees, charging fees to clients for establishing employment relationships with employees in certain instances and preventing employees from establishing an employment relationship with a client

-Temporary help agencies will also have to comply with the forthcoming equal pay provisions
Pay Equity Legislation -All federally regulated private sector employers with 10 or more employees must implement a pay equity plan within three years

-For unionized workplaces with 10 or more employees and non-unionized workplaces with 100 or more employees, the legislation will require employers to establish a pay equity committee that will evaluate and solicit feedback on pay equity gaps in the workplace

-Creation of a Pay Equity Commissioner, who is responsible for ensuring compliance with the pay equity legislation

-Pay Equity Commissioner will operate within the framework of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and can refer matters to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for determination  

PH TIPS

The current provisions of the Canada Labour Code remain in effect – Prior to September 1, 2019, none of the above changes will come into effect, and federally regulated workplaces continue to be governed by the existing legislation. Employers are not obligated to implement any of the above changes prior to September 1, 2019 at the earliest.

Strategize on how to make changes – While employers are not yet required to implement these changes, they should begin to strategize on how best to implement these changes, and how these changes will impact their workplace. Even though the effective date for certain changes has not yet been determined, federally regulated employers should begin turning their minds to each of the upcoming changes.

We are in an election year, meaning there is no guarantee these changes will be long lasting – As provincially regulated employers in Ontario know, the election of a new government may lead to significant changes to labour and employment standards legislation. While Bill C-86 was proposed by the current majority Liberal government, if there is a change in power federally in October 2019 there may also be corresponding changes to the Code, and other legislation that impacts federally regulated workplaces. Employers should craft flexible employment agreements and workplace policies that will be responsive to any further changes down the road.

The changes set out above are sure to have important effects on federally regulated employers and employees. Piccolo Heath LLP will keep you apprised of any further developments.

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Chetan Muram and Sabrina Morcos