Employees and employers in federally regulated businesses will be subject to new rights and remedies which took effect on September 1, 2019, under Bill C-86, which is amending aspects of the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”). Other parts of this bill had been implemented previously.

Below is an overview of the new laws that have most recently taken effect.

Notice of Work Schedule

Companies must provide employees with their work schedules at least 96 hours in advance. Where this rule has been violated, employees may legally refuse to work.

Rest Periods

Employees are entitled to a rest period of at least 8 consecutive hours between shifts. After 5 hours of consecutive work, a rest period must be provided of at least 30 minutes. In addition, employees are allowed unpaid breaks for medical reasons which include a break by a nursing mother.

Leave of Absences

Previously, the Code required a minimum length of service for leaves such as parental, sick or one due to the death or disappearance of a family member. This requirement has been eliminated.

Medical Leave

This leave is now defined as “sick leave”. Employees who qualify are allowed such a leave of up to 17 weeks. This may be due to an illness or injury, organ donation or due to the need to attend medical appointments during the workday. The employer does have the right to request a certificate from a health care practitioner.

Personal Leave

Employees are now entitled to 5 days of personal leave. If the employee has completed at least 3 months of service, the first 3 of these days are with pay. There are many reasons an employee may offer for taking personal leave. These include to treat a personal illness or injury, attend to the health or care of a family member, meet education responsibilities of family members, or to address the urgent needs of family members, or to attend their own citizenship ceremony.

Leaves for Victims of Family Violence

This leave period is up to 10 days per calendar year. Up to 5 of these eligible days are paid leave. An employee who is the victim of family violence or the parent of a child who is such a victim is eligible for this leave.

Bereavement Leave

Prior to the recent amendments, this leave period was allowed as paid leave for up to 3 days. The revised Code allows for an additional 2 days of unpaid leave in the event of a death of a family member. The timing of the leave begins on the date of the death of the family member and may be taken up to 6 weeks following the funeral or memorial service.

Jury & Court Duty

This leave is unpaid. It is provided in order to permit attendance at court to appear as a witness, sit on a jury or to participate in the jury selection process.

Aboriginal Leave

Aboriginal employees with at least 3 months of service are allowed an unpaid leave of up to 5 days to participate in traditional aboriginal practices such as hunting, fishing or harvesting.

Vacation Pay

Vacation pay entitlements have been increased as follows:

  1. After 1 year, 2 weeks or 4% vacation pay;
  2. After 5 years, 3 weeks or 6%;
  3. After 10 years, 4 weeks or 8%.

Take Away for All

It is important for both employees and employers in federally-regulated industries to understand the new entitlements. The issues for violation can be more dramatic than an adjusting pay sum. Termination of an employee for requesting compliance could readily lead to significant common law claims for aggravated damages for bad faith conduct. These may seem like minor revisions but it is nonetheless important to stay abreast of all new rules in order to ensure that internal policies and guidelines are updated as necessary. Indeed, more changes may follow by additional regulations which are expected shortly.

Get Advice Before You Act

For advice on this and similar issues and, indeed, any employment issue, contact the offices of Toronto employment and labour lawyers Mallins Law. We regularly advise employees and employers on legal workplace issues. Contact us online or by phone at 647-792-0310 to schedule a consultation.