Changes to the Canada Labour Code August 29 2019

Federal employers should be prepared to comply with the upcoming changes to the Canada Labour Code. Below is a brief summary of the major amendments imposed by Bill C-63, the Budget Implementation Act, 2017 and Bill C-86, the Budget Implementation Act, 2018 which will take effect on September 1, 2019.

Changes Imposed by Bill C-63 

  • Flexible Work Arrangements: employees with at least six months of service have the right to request, in writing, flexible work arrangements regarding their work location, hours of work, and schedule. Employers must approve such requests unless they have reasonable grounds for not doing so (e.g., insufficient work available to the employee).
  • Overtime: employees may refuse overtime in order to carry out family responsibilities, so long as they have first taken sufficient steps to address such responsibilities before the refusal. Additionally, subject to certain conditions, an employee who works overtime can be granted 1.5 hours of paid time off for each overtime hour worked, if agreed upon by the employee and employer in writing.
  • Shift Change Notice: employers must provide employees with at least 24 hours of written notice of a shift change or extension, subject to exceptional circumstances.
  • Extended Bereavement Leave: bereavement leave entitlement is extended from 3 paid days to 3 paid plus 2 unpaid days of leave for the passing of a family member.
  • New Leaves: the new Leave for Victims of Family Violence provides an employee up to 5 paid days and 5 unpaid days of leave per calendar year who is a victim, or whose child is a victim, of family violence. Leave for Traditional Aboriginal Practices is also be added, which provides Aboriginal employees with 5 unpaid days per calendar year to participate in traditional Aboriginal practices as prescribed by the Act.

Changes Imposed by Bill C-86

  • Vacation: employees are entitled to increased vacation pay and time as follows:
    • 2 weeks of vacation after 1 year of service at 4% vacation pay
    • 3 weeks of vacation after 5 years of service at 6% vacation pay
    • 4 weeks of vacation after 10 years of service at 8% vacation pay
  • Notice of Schedule: employers must provide at least 96 hours of written notice of an employee’s work schedule before the start of their first work period. Employees have the right to refuse to work any shifts that begin within the 96 hour period, subject to exceptional circumstances.
  • Breaks and Rest Periods: employees shall be entitled to at least a 30 minute unpaid break for every 5 hours of consecutive work and a rest period of at least 8 consecutive hours between shifts.
  • Medical and Nursing Breaks: employees shall be entitled to unpaid breaks necessary for medical reasons. Employees who are nursing are also entitled to unpaid breaks to nurse or express breast milk.
  • Medical Leave: Sick Leave has been replaced with Medical Leave, which has been expanded to include a leave for personal illness or injury, organ donation, or medical appointments. The entitlement remains a leave of up to 17 weeks. If the leave is 3 days or more in duration, an employer may request a certificate from a health care practitioner as proof of entitlement.
  • Personal Leave: employees are entitled to 5 days of leave for personal illness or injury, family responsibilities related to healthcare or education, urgent matters, and to attend their own citizenship ceremony. If an employee has worked for 3 or more consecutive months with the same employer, the first 3 days of this leave shall be paid.
  • Court or Jury Duty Leave: employees are entitled to unpaid leave for court or jury duty. There is no limit on the length of this leave.
  • Medical Certificate: the requirement to provide a certificate from a medical practitioner as proof of entitlement in certain circumstances has been amended to certificates from a “health care practitioner” as defined by the Act.


It is important to note that the above changes to the Canada Labour Code only apply to federally regulated employers (e.g., banks, telecommunications, etc.). Employers who are bound by federal legislation should update their policies, if they have not already done so, in accordance with these amendments no later than September 1, 2019. If you have any questions about Bill C-63, Bill C-86, or the impact these changes will have on your workplace, please do not hesitate to ask one of our HR advisors through our OnDemand ticketing system.