Canada

Labor Compliance Guide

Labor Requirements

The Federal Labor Law in Canada is regulated mainly by the Canada Labor Code, 1985. The Code governs the terms and conditions of employment such as working hours, holidays, rest periods, wages, overtime, leave and termination of employment, etc. The other acts that govern labor relationships are The Employment Insurance Act, the Labor Relations Act, etc.

 

Applicability 

The Canada Labor Code covers employees working in federally regulated workplaces and most federal crown corporations (for example, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Canada Post Corporation). Federally regulated workplaces generally include:

    • inter-provincial and international services such as:
          • railways
          • road transport
          • telephone, telegraph, and cable systems
          • pipeline
          • canals
          • ferries, tunnels, and bridges
          • shipping and shipping services
    • radio and television broadcasting, including Cablevision
    • air transport, aircraft operations, and aerodromes
    • banks
    • undertakings for the protection and preservation of fisheries as a natural resource
    • some First Nations communities and activities
    • undertakings declared by Parliament to be for the general advantage of Canada, such as most grain elevators, flour, and seed mills, feed warehouses, and grain-seed cleaning plants, uranium mining and processing, and atomic energy.

Hours & Pay Regulations

Normal Working Hours

The standard hours of work of an employee shall not exceed 8 hours in a day and 40 hours in a week. The maximum number of hours that an employee can work is 48 hours a week. This can be exceeded in exceptional circumstances such as in cases of emergencies.

 

Averaging Hours of Work

In cases of working establishments with irregular distribution of hours of work of an employee, the hours of work in a day and week may be calculated as an average for a period of two or more weeks.

 

Such averaging of hours, if agreed in writing shall remain in effect for the duration of the agreement or any shorter period as may have been agreed. And where this has not been agreed in writing, this shall stay in effect for no longer than 3 years.

 

Flexible Work Arrangements

An employee who has been in the continuous employment of an employer for a period of 6 consecutive months can make a request to the employer for a change in terms and conditions of employment in terms of working hours, work schedule, location of work, etc. Such a request may either be granted fully/partially or refused by the employer.

 

Modified Work Schedule

An employer can modify a work schedule for employees under which the hours exceed the standard hours of work, such that the average hours of work for a period of two or more weeks do not exceed 40 hours a week and such modification has been agreed in writing. Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 169, 170,173.1, and 177.1.

 

Recording Requirements

An employer shall ensure to maintain records of an employee with respect to wages, overtime hours worked, general holidays, and other particulars as may be required by the government authority for a period of at least 36 months from the date work was performed. Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 252, and 264.

Overtime

An employee who works in excess of the standard hours of work is entitled to be paid for the overtime at a rate of 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of wages or 1.5 hours’ time off from work with pay for each hour of overtime worked.

 

Conditions

An employee is entitled to time off for overtime worked only if there exists an agreement between the employer and the employee for taking such time off and is taken within a period of 3 months after the end of the pay period in which the overtime was worked, in case of employees subjected to a collective agreement and shall not be more than 12 months for an employee who is not subject to a collective agreement.

 

Time Off not taken within a Specified Period

If an employee does not take all or part of the time off within the applicable period, the employer shall within 30 days after the day on which the applicable period ends, pay the employee’s wages for the overtime work performed at a rate of wages not less than 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of wages on the day on which they worked the overtime.

 

Termination of Employment

If the employment of an employee terminated before the employee takes all or part of the time off, the employer shall in such cases, pay the employee for the overtime work within 30 days after the day on which the employment is terminated, at a rate of not less than 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of wages. Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 174. 

Breaks

An employee is entitled to at least 30 minutes unpaid break during every period of 5 consecutive hours of work. In cases, where the employee remains at the disposal of the employers during the break period, the employee shall be paid for the break.

 

Medical Break

Every employee is entitled to any unpaid breaks that are necessary for medical reasons.

 

Nursing Break

Every employee who is nursing is entitled to any unpaid breaks necessary for them to nurse or to express breast milk. Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 169, 169.1, 181.1, 181.2 and 181.3.

Work On Rest Days

Rest Period

An employee is entitled to a rest period of at least 8 consecutive hours between work periods or shifts unless an emergency exists. Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 169.2.

 

Days of Rest

The employees shall be entitled to at least one full day rest in a week and wherever practicable, Sunday shall be the normal day of rest in the week. Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 173.

Sunday Work

No work shall be performed on Sunday that is prohibited by Law. Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 168(2).

Public Holidays

Federally regulated employees are entitled to nine paid public holidays:

      • Jan. 1: New Year’s Day
      • Good Friday
      • Victoria Day (3rd Monday in May)
      • July 1: Canada Day
      • Labour Day (1st Monday in September)
      • Thanksgiving Day (2nd Monday in October)
      • November 11: Remembrance Day
      • December 25: Christmas Day
      • December 26: Boxing Day
      • any day substituted for any such holiday

General Holiday falling on Day off

When a general holiday falls on a day that is a non-working day for an employee, the employee shall be granted another holiday with pay at some time as may be agreed between the employer and the employee, which can also be an addition to the employee’s annual vacation. This is not applicable to employees covered under a collective agreement, who are entitled to at least 9 holidays with pay exclusive of any annual vacation.

 

Alternative day for Holiday falling on non-working Saturday or Sunday

Where the New Year’s Day, Canada Day, Remembrance Day, Christmas Day or Boxing Day falls on a Sunday or Saturday that is non-working, the employee is entitled to another holiday with pay on a working day immediately preceding or following the general holiday. This is not applicable to employees covered under a collective agreement, who are entitled to at least 9 holidays with pay exclusive of any annual vacation.

 

Substitution of General Holidays

An employer may substitute any other day for a general holiday for employees covered under a collective agreement or not, and such substitution shall be deemed to be a general holiday for such employees. The notice regarding such substitution shall be posted by the employer inaccessible places at least 30 days before the substitution takes effect.

 

Holiday Pay

An employee shall be paid for each general holiday, an amount equal to at least 1/20th of the wages excluding overtime pay that the employee earned in the 4-week period immediately preceding the week in which the general holiday occurs.

 

Payment for working on a General Holiday

Employees who work on a general holiday are entitled in addition to holiday pay, wages at a rate equal to at least 1.5 times their regular rate of wages for the time that they work on that day. Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 199 – 200.

Annual Leave

Eligibility

Every employee who has been in the continuous employment of an employer for a period of 12 consecutive months beginning from the date of the employment or for a calendar year or any other year determined by the employer are eligible for an annual vacation with pay.

 

Annual Vacation with pay

Eligible employees are entitled to vacation with pay for:

      • at least 2 weeks, in case of completion of one year of employment;
      • at least 3 weeks, in case of completion of at least 5 consecutive years of employment with the same employer;
      • at least 4 weeks, in case of completion of at least 10 consecutive years of employment with the same employer.

Calculation of Vacation Pay

An employee is entitled to annual vacation with pay in an amount equal to:

        • 4% of their wages during the year of employment in respect of which they are entitled to vacation;
        • 6% of their wages during the year of employment in respect of which they are entitled to vacation, in case of completion of at least 5 consecutive years of employment with the same employer;
        • 8% of their wages during the year of employment in respect of which they are entitled to vacation, in case of completion of at least 10 consecutive years of employment with the same employer.

Entitlement to vacation in one or more periods

Employees shall take an annual vacation in one period unless otherwise agreed with the employer to be taken in more than one period.

 

Granting Vacation with pay

An employer shall grant vacation to employees in the below manner:

          • shall grant the vacation with pay to which an employee is entitled which shall begin no later than 10 months immediately following the completion of the year of employment;
          • shall pay to the employee at any time
              • if the vacation is taken in one period, the vacation pay to which the employee is entitled to;
              • if the vacation is taken in more than one period, the proportion of vacation pays for each period.

General Holiday during Vacation

If one or more general holidays occur during an employee’s vacation, such vacation shall be extended by one day for each such general holiday and the employees are entitled in addition to the vacation pay the wages to which the employee is eligible for those general holidays.

 

Termination of employment during the year

In case of termination, the employer shall pay to the employee within 30 days after the day on which termination took place:

            • any vacation pay owed to the employee with respect to any prior completed year of employment;
            • the applicable percentage of the wages of the employee during any part of the completed portion of their year of employment in respect of which vacation pay has not been paid to them.

Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 183 – 190

Minimum Wage

There is no federal minimum wage rate in Canada. The minimum wage is based on the prevailing rate of the province in which work is performed. 

Special Leave

Maternity Leave

A woman employee is entitled to an unpaid leave of up to 17 weeks, which begins 13 weeks before the expected date of delivery, and ends 17 weeks after the actual delivery date. If the delivery has not occurred during the 17 weeks period, the leave is extended until the day of the birth of the child.

 

If the child born is hospitalized during the period of 17 weeks following the date of delivery the period of leave is extended by the number of weeks during which the child is hospitalized. Such extension shall not exceed a period of 52 weeks. Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 204 – 206.

Medical Leave

An employee is entitled to unpaid leave up to 17 weeks as a result of:

      • personal injury or illness;
      • organ or tissue donation;
      • medical appointments during working hours.

Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 239

Parental Leave

An employee is entitled to unpaid leave up to 63 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn child of the employee or a child who is in care of the employee for the purpose of adoption.

 

Parents may share parental leave in order to access an additional 8 weeks of leave. Parents who share parental leave have access to 71 weeks of parental leave. They can take this leave any time during:

          • the 78-week period starting the day the child is born, or
          • the day the child comes into their care.

Female employees who have given birth can take both maternity and parental leave. However, they are only eligible for 1 period of time for each type of leave. If they choose to take parental leave, they must do so in 1 continuous period of time without interruption from periods of work.

 

The combined maternity and parental leaves for one parent cannot exceed 78 weeks. Parents who share parental leave have access to a combined 86 weeks of maternity and parental leave. Employees can only share parental leave.

 

Extension of Period

If the child is hospitalized during the 78-week period, the leave is extended by the number of weeks during which the child is hospitalized.

 

Regardless of the duration of the hospitalization:

      • maternity leave must end no more than 52 weeks after the date of delivery, and
      • parental leave must end no later than 104 weeks after the day on which the child is born or comes into the employee’s actual care.

Canada Labour Code, § 206.1 – 206.2.

Compassionate Care Leave

An employee is entitled to unpaid leave up to 28 weeks to provide care or support to a family member if a medical certificate states that the family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks from the day certificate is issued, or the day leave was commenced in case of non-issuance of the medical certificate.

 

Period When leave may be Taken

The leave shall only be taken during the period:

      • that starts with the first day of the week in which the certificate is issued, or in case of non-issuance of the medical certificate, the first day of the week in which the leave was commenced; and
      • ends with the last day of the week in which either of the following occurs the family member dies,  the period of 52 weeks following the first day of the week from the day leave began.

Aggregate Leave 

The aggregate amount of leave that may be taken by two or more employees in respect of the care or support of the same family member shall not exceed 28 weeks. Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 206.3.

Leave for Critical Illness

An employee who is a family member of a critically ill child is entitled to unpaid leave up to 37 weeks to provide care and support to the child. An employee who is a family member of a critically ill adult is entitled to unpaid leave for up to 17 weeks to provide care and support to the child.

 

Period when leave may be Taken

The period during which the employee may take leave:

      • begins on the first day of the week in which either of the following falls:
          • the day on which the first certificate is issued in respect of the child or adult, as the case may be;
          • if the leave begins before the day on which the certificate is issued, the day from which the medical certificate indicates that the child or adult, as applicable, is critically ill; and
      • ends on the last day of the week in which either of the following occurs:
          • the child or adult dies, or
          • the expiry of 52 weeks following the first day of the week from the day leave began.

Aggregate Leave

The aggregate amount of leave that may be taken by employees shall not exceed:

      • in respect of the same critically ill child, 37 weeks; or
      • in respect of the same critically ill adult, 17 weeks.

Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 206.4.

Leave Related to Death or Disappearance of a Child

An employee is entitled to unpaid leave for up to 104 weeks if the employee is the parent of a child who has died as a result of the crime. An employee is entitled to unpaid leave up to 52 weeks if the employee is the parent of a child who has died as a result of the crime.

 

Period when leave may be Taken

The period during which the employee may take leave:

      • begins on the day on which the death or disappearance occurs; and
      • ends
          • in case of death of the child, 104 weeks after the day on which the death occurs;
          • in case of the disappearance of the child, 52 weeks after the day on which the disappearance occurs.

Disappearance of the Child

In case, the child who disappeared has been subsequently found, the leave shall end:

      • 14 days after the day on which the child is found, if found within the 52-week period; or
      • 104 weeks after the day on which the disappearance occurs, if found dead.

Leave allowed shall end on the day on which it is no longer probable that the death or disappearance was the result of a crime.

 

Aggregate Leave 

The aggregate amount of leave that may be taken by employees in respect of the same death or disappearance of a child or the same children who die or disappear as a result of the same event, must not exceed 104 weeks in the case of death or 52 weeks in the case of disappearance. Canada Labour Code, § 206.5.

Personal Leave

An employee is entitled to leave up to 5 days of leave in every calendar year for:

      • treating their illness or injury;
      • carrying out responsibilities related to 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;
      • any other reason prescribed by regulation.

Leave with Pay

An employee who has been in continuous employment for 3 consecutive months with the employer is entitled to 3 days of leave with pay at the rate of wages for their normal hours of work.

 

Division of Leave

 

Such leave may be taken in one or more periods. The employer may require that each period of leave shall not be less than one day’s duration. Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 206.6.

Bereavement Leave

An employee is entitled to leave up to 5 days in the event of the death of a member of their immediate family. Such leave begins on the day on which the death occurs and ends 6 weeks after the latest of the days on which any funeral, burial or memorial service of that immediate family member occurs.

 

Employees who have been in continuous employment for a period of consecutive 3 months with the employer are entitled to the first 3 days of the leave with pay at their regular rate of wages for their normal hours of work. Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 210.

Leave for Victim of Family Violence

An employee who is a victim of family violence or who is a parent of a child who is a victim of family violence is entitled to unpaid leave for up to 10 days in every calendar year in respect of such violence.

 

An employee who has been in continuous employment for 3 months is entitled to the first 5 days of the leave with pay at their regular wages for their normal work hours. The leave may be taken in one or more periods. The employer may require each period of leave to be not of less than one day’s duration. Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 206.7.

Reservist Leave

Employers under federal jurisdiction are required to give unpaid leaves of absence to employees with at least three months’ service who are reservists in the Canadian Armed Forces for purposes of annual training or to take part in activities in Canada or abroad. Leave must also be granted to allow such employees to recover from any physical or mental health problem resulting from the training or deployment. Canada Labor Code, § 247.5.

Leave for Traditional Aboriginal Practices

An employee who is an Aboriginal person and who has completed 3 consecutive months of continuous employment with an employer is entitled to unpaid leave for up to 5 days in every calendar year. The leave may be taken in one or more periods. The employer may require each period of leave to be not of less than one day’s duration. Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 206.8

Leave of Absence for Members of the Reserve Forces

An employee who has been in continuous employment with an employer for 3 consecutive months or a shorter period as may have been prescribed for any particular class of employees and is a member of the reserve force shall be granted unpaid leave to take part in any Canadian Armed Forces or activities set out in the regulations etc.

 

Amount of Leave

An employee who has taken leave for the purpose of an operation in Canada or abroad designated by the Minister of National Defence, an activity set out in the regulations, Canadian Armed Forces military skills training and training that employee is ordered to take under the National Defence Act shall not be more than an aggregate of 24 months in any 60 month period. Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 247.5. 

Court or Jury Duty Leave

An employee is entitled to unpaid leave to attend court to act as a witness, juror or participate in a jury selection process. Canada Labour Code RSC 1985, § 206.9.

Last updated on: September 14th, 2020