Provinces in Canada have exclusive jurisdiction over all aspects of employment relations in most fields of economic activity. This “exclusive jurisdiction” is just that: unlike many other federal systems, the central government has no power under the Canadian Constitution to legislate or regulate concerning an industry that comes under provincial jurisdiction. Federal labor and employment legislation simply does not apply to employers who come under provincial jurisdiction. Equally, provincial labor or employment legislation does not apply to employers in federally regulated industries.
The standard hours of work of an employee shall not exceed 8 hours in a day and 40 hours in a week. An employee may be employed in excess of the standard hours of work but, the total hours that may be worked by any employee in any week shall not exceed 48 hours in a week or such fewer total number of hours as may be prescribed by the regulations as maximum working hours in the industrial establishment in or in connection with the operation of which the employee is employed. Labor Code, § 169-172.
Effective January 1, 2019, a new provision of the Code requires that if an employer changes or extends a period or shift during which an employee is required to work, the employer must give 24 hours’ notice.
Effective January 1, 2018, an employee has the right to request a flexible work arrangement. The request must be in writing and includes certain information. Upon receiving such a request, the employer must decide to either grant the request in full, or in part or refuse the request. Labor Code Amendment Bill C-63.
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.
When an employee is required or permitted to work in excess of the standard hours of work, the employee shall be paid for the overtime at a rate of wages not less than 1.5 times his regular rate of wages. Effective January 1, 2018, the employees are allowed to be either paid for overtime worked at the rate of 1.5 times their regular wages, or to be granted time off with pay (at one and half hours for each overtime hour worked. Canada Labor Code, § 174 & 177.
Each employee has at least one full day of rest in the week, and, wherever practicable, Sunday shall be the normal day of rest in the week. Canada Labor Code, § 173.
Effective September 1, 2019, the following changes are scheduled to take place:
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.
Federally regulated employees are entitled to nine paid public holidays:
Every employee is entitled to and shall be granted a holiday with pay on each of the general holidays falling within any period of his employment. When a general holiday falls on a day that is a non-working day for an employee, the employee is entitled to and shall be granted a holiday with pay at some other time, which may be by way of addition to his annual vacation or granted as a holiday with pay at a time convenient to both the employee and the employer.
When New Year’s Day, Canada Day, Remembrance Day, Christmas Day or Boxing Day falls on a Sunday or Saturday that is a non-working day, the employee is entitled to and shall be granted a holiday with pay on a working day immediately preceding or following the general holiday.
Effective September 1, 2019, 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.
Additional Pay for Holiday Work
An employee who is required to work on a day on which they are entitled to holiday pay shall be paid, in addition to the holiday pay for that day, wages at a rate equal to at least one and one-half times their regular rate of wages for the time that they work on that day. An employee employed in a continuous operation who is required to work on a day on which they are entitled to holiday pay shall:
Canada Labor Code, § 191-198.
The provincial law governs annual paid leave unless the employee falls under federal jurisdiction. All provinces guarantee two weeks paid vacation, except for Saskatchewan, which mandates three weeks of paid vacation. Employees are entitled to and shall be granted a vacation of at least two weeks with vacation pay and, after six consecutive years of employment by one employer, at least three weeks with vacation pay in respect of every year of employment by that employer.
Effective January 1, 2018, the Code amends to provide for a vacation to be taken in one period, or at the employee’s request and the employer’s approval (both in writing), more than one period. Vacation can be interrupted for certain leaves. If that occurs, the employee must give written notice of the interruption and resumption of vacation to the employer. Labor Code Amendment Bill C-63.
Vacation Pay: At present employees are entitled to either 2 or 3 weeks of paid vacation depending on the length of service. Effective September 1, 2019, in accordance with Bill C-86, there will be an increase in the number of weeks of paid vacation as follows:
As of October 1, 2018, the minimum wage is $11.35 per hour. The government has announced that the minimum wage will further rise to $13.85 on June 1st, 2019, to $14.60 on June 1st, 2020 and to $15.20 on June 1st, 2021. Canada Labor Code, § 178.
Every employee is entitled to and shall be granted a leave of absence from the employment of up to 17 weeks, which leave may begin not earlier than 13 weeks prior to the estimated date of her confinement and end not later than 17 weeks following the actual date of her confinement.
An employee who is pregnant or nursing is entitled to and shall be granted a leave of absence during the period from the beginning of the pregnancy to the end of the twenty-fourth week following the birth if she provides the employer with a certificate of a qualified medical practitioner. Canada Labor Code, § 204-205.
Every employee is entitled to and shall be granted a leave of absence from the employment of up to 63 weeks to care for a new-born child of the employee or a child. The leave of absence granted may only be taken during the 78-week period beginning:
If the child is hospitalized during the period, the period is extended by the number of weeks during which the child is hospitalized. An extension must not result in the period being longer than 104 weeks. The aggregate amount of leave that may be taken by two employees in respect of the same birth or adoption shall not exceed 63 weeks. Canada Labor Code, § 206.1 – 206.2.
Bill C-44 amended the Labour Code to provide federally regulated workers with an unpaid parental leave of absence of up to 63 weeks to care for a newborn child of the worker or a child who is adopted by the worker. Prior to December 2017, the maximum period of leave was 37 weeks. The aggregate amount of maternity and parental leave that may be taken by one or two employees with respect to the same birth or adoption must not exceed 78 weeks. to December 2017, the maximum period of leave was 52 weeks.
Every employee is entitled to and shall be granted a leave of absence from employment of up to 28 weeks to provide care or support to a family member of the employee if a medical doctor or nurse practitioner issues a certificate stating that the family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks from the day the certificate is issued; or if the leave was commenced before the certificate was issued, the day the leave was commenced. 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 Labor Code, § 206.3.
Every employee who has completed six consecutive months of continuous employment with an employer and who is a family member of a critically ill child is entitled to and shall be granted a leave of absence from employment of up to 37 weeks in order to care for or support that child if a medical doctor or nurse practitioner has issued a certificate. In case of a critically ill adult, the duration is 17 weeks. Canada Labor Code, § 206.4.
Every employee who has completed six consecutive months of continuous employment with an employer is entitled to and shall be granted a leave of absence from employment of up to 104 weeks if the employee is the parent of a child who has died, and it is probable, considering the circumstances, that the child died as a result of a crime. Every employee who has completed six consecutive months of continuous employment with an employer is entitled to and shall be granted a leave of absence from employment of up to 52 weeks if the employee is the parent of a child who has disappeared, and it is probable, considering the circumstances, that the child disappeared as a result of a crime. Canada Labor Code, § 206.5.
Effective September 1, 2019, 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. Canada Labor Code, § 239.
Bereavement leave is extended to 5 days (from 3 days) and may be taken beginning on the day the death occurs and ending six weeks after the latest of the days on which any funeral, burial or memorial service of the immediate family member occurs. The first three days of the leave must be paid (with the remaining two days unpaid). Canada Labor Code, § 210.
An employee who is the victim of family violence or the parent of a child who is the victim of family violence is entitled to up to 10 days of unpaid leave per year in order to:
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. Canada Labor Code, § 206.7.
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.
Employees who are an Aboriginal person are entitled to take 5 days per the calendar year to engage in traditional Aboriginal practices including hunting, fishing, and harvesting. The employer can require that the employee provide documentation that shows an employee is an Aboriginal person within 15 days of the employee returning to work following the leave. Canada Labor Code, § 206.8.
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.
Effective September 1, 2019, 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.
Last updated on: June 11th, 2019