Humaniqa HR Blog

Flexible Work Arrangements April 16 2018

Purpose:  The purpose of the HR Minute is to provide clients with timely information about human resources issues.  Please take a moment to read this important information.

Although not mandated by employment legislation, many employers have recognized the benefits of approving requests for flexible work arrangements.  Of course, being accommodating and implementing a practice of flexible arrangements can improve morale, increase retention and ultimately, improve effectiveness and efficiency.  On the other hand, some employers remain hesitant about flexible work arrangements as it is difficult to track an employee’s time, it creates scheduling conflicts, and it requires an adjustment to a new management style which requires trust.

As defined by the Government of Canada, “flexible work arrangements allow employees to alter, on a temporary or permanent basis, their work schedule, the number of hours they work or the location where they do their work, or to take leave from work to meet responsibilities outside of work.” Flexible work arrangements can be implemented in several different ways such as flex-time, compressed workweeks, part-time scheduling, job sharing or shift work.  Before approving requests, employers should be mindful of the impact the arrangement(s) will have on the organization.  For example, employers should ensure that opportunities are available to all employees and free from prejudice or discrimination.  

Despite an organization’s best efforts, some employees may be negatively impacted more than other groups based on several circumstances.  In order to mitigate any claim of discriminatory practice, employers should ensure they evaluate each request on a case-by-case basis along with clear policies and careful documentation. Agreements should always be in writing and include a start and end date, a list of the changes that will take effect, as well as signatures from both parties.

Upcoming Changes to the Canada Labour Code

The Government of Canada hopes to make significant changes to legislation in order to accelerate the trend toward flexible schedules.  In recent discussions, the Government has expressed its commitment to amend the Canada Labour Code with plans to provide employees the right to request flexible work arrangements from their employers. 

Under Bill C-63, Budget Implementation Act, 2017 employers will have to provide a bona fide reason as to why they decide not to grant the leave as well as other exceptions.  Other countries, such as Australia and the UK, have already granted their employees similar rights.

The Government has only recently begun discussions in earnest. For now, employers will simply have to await further deliberation.  We will continue to report on this trend as it develops.

For a sample flexible work arrangement policy, please visit the Policy Library in the Resource Centre tab of our website. To view Bill C-63 and other related federal legislation, please visit the Laws tab.

Date: April, 2018