Global Compliance Update – Canada

New Rules for Federally Regulated Employers

Canadian Parliament has introduced various changes in Bill C-86 (the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2) which gained royal assent last month. 

These new changes will impact employers in federal undertakings such as those whose business enterprises are in telecommunications, aviation, navigation, and shipping, inter-provincial transport, pipe-lining, and banking, etc. The below summary provides employers with an overture to some of the most remarkable changes to employment legislation in the federal circle:

Effective September 1, 2019, the following changes are scheduled to take place:

Amendment to Various Leaves of Absence

Medical Leave: Bill C-86 substitutes ‘sick leave’ with medical leave. Employees are authorized to a leave of absence of up to 17 weeks as a result of any personal illness or injury, organ or tissue donation or to attend medical appointments. Employees must give 4 weeks’ notice of the planned absence stating the start date and expected term of the leave. Where notice cannot be given 4 weeks in advance, the employee must provide as much notice as possible.

If the leave of absence is three days or longer, the employee is required to provide a medical certificate which certifies that the employee was incapable of working during the absence.

Leave for Court or Jury Duty: Employees will be entitled to an unpaid leave of absence to attend court to appear as a witness, act as a juror or participate in a jury selection process.

Leave for Pregnant or Nursing Women: Employees will be entitled to an unpaid leave during the 24 weeks following the birth of a child if the employee provides the employer with a certificate from a health care practitioner that she is unable to work due to pregnancy or nursing.

Paternity/Maternity Leave: Employees will no longer need to have six months of prior service in order to qualify for maternity or paternity leave.

Personal Leave: At present, the Canada Labor Code provides employees who have 3 months of employment up to 3 days of absence for family obligations. Under Bill C-86, employees will be entitled to up to 5 days (annually) of “personal leave” for illness, certain family responsibilities, urgent matters, and attending citizenship ceremonies. Employees are no longer work 3 months to be entitled to such leave but where they have 3 months of continuous service then the first 3 days of personal leave are paid. The date for effectiveness of this change is not yet determined.

Family Violence Leave: Employees who have completed 3 months of employment will be entitled to paid leave for the first five days of leave if they are victims of family violence. The date for effectiveness of this change is not yet decided.

Changes to Vacation & Holiday Pay 
Vacation Pay: At present employees are entitled to either 2 or 3 weeks of paid vacation depending on the length of service. Bill C-86 will increase the number of weeks of paid vacation as follows:

  • 2 weeks paid vacation (or 4% vacation pay) for employees who have completed one year of employment;
  • 3 weeks paid vacation (or 6% vacation pay) for employees who have completed five years of employment;
  • 4 weeks paid vacation (or 8% vacation pay) for employees who have completed ten years of employment.

Holiday Pay: Employees will no longer be required to have 30 days of service to receive holiday pay. Holiday pay must be at least equal to 1/20th of the employee’s wages (excluding overtime earnings) earned during the four-week period preceding the week in which the holiday occurs.

New Work Breaks & Rest Periods
Breaks: Employers will have to provide each employee with an unpaid break of at least 30 minutes during every five consecutive hours of work except in certain emergencies. The break must be paid if the employee is required to be available to work during that time.

Rest Between Shifts: Employees will have to be provided for a rest period of at least 8 hours between work periods/shifts except in certain emergencies.

Breaks for Medical Reasons: Employees will be entitled to unpaid breaks as required for medical reasons subject to possible future regulations. Employers can require employees to provide a medical certificate stating the length and frequency of the needed breaks.

Breaks for Nursing: Employees will be entitled to unpaid breaks to nurse, or to express breast milk subject to possible future regulations.

Notice Required for Implementing Work Schedules
Employers will have to provide employees with at least 96 hours advance notice of any work schedule except in certain emergencies. Where an employer fails to provide such notice, an employee is entitled to refuse any shift occurring less than 96 hours after that employee receives the schedule. Employers and unions can agree otherwise, as can employees who have requested a Flexible Work Arrangement.

Pay Equity Legislation– Effective on Date(s) to be set by Governor in Council
Bill C-86 also establishes a new Pay Equity Act which will require employers with 10 or more employees to establish pay equity plans within three years of the time the legislation comes into force. Review and update of the plan must occur every 5 years. Employers with over 99 employees and those with more than 10 employees and a collective bargaining relationship will also have to create pay equity committees.

Shreya Bhattacharya
Shreya Bhattacharya
A labor and employment lawyer at Replicon who specializes in global compliance. Replicon provides award-winning products that make it easy to manage your workforce. Replicon is an industry leader in global compliance and has a dedicated team which pro-actively monitors international labor regulations for ensuring proper adherence with specific country rule requirements.
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