Life & the Law

Susan Kootnekoff is a lawyer with Inspire Law in Kelowna. The content of this article is intended to provide very general thoughts and general information, not to provide legal advice. Specialist advice from a qualified legal professional should be sought about your specific circumstances . If you would like to reach Inspire Law, call 250-764-7710 or:info@inspirelaw.ca.

Amendments to the Canada Labour Code become effective on Sept. 1.

The Canada Labour Code applies to employers in federally regulated industries. This includes banks, telecommunications and transportation traveling outside provincial boundaries.

The amendments arise from Bill C-63, the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2, and Bill C-86, the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2. “Regulations Amending the Canada Labour Standards Regulations” have also been published.

Employers to whom these changes apply should review the details of the legislation or seek professional advice.

Included are changes to allow flexible workplace arrangements (FWAs) and changes to overtime and job- protected leaves of absence. Changes are also being made to scheduling, breaks, vacations and holiday pay, and other areas. Only some of the many changes are summarized here.

Employees will have a right to request flexible work arrangements respecting their hours of work, work location and work schedule. A request for an FWA must be in writing and must be approved by the employer. Certain grounds exist for not to doing so.

New scheduling obligations are being created, including a requirement to provide 30-minute unpaid breaks. Employees will be entitled to certain rest periods between shifts. Subject to certain exceptions, employers must provide employees with at least 24 hours’ notice of a shift change or extension and at least 96 hours’ notice before implementing a new work schedule.

Employees will be able to refuse to work any shifts scheduled without the 96- hours prior notice, without reprisal.

Employees will be able to refuse overtime to carry out family responsibilities related to health care or education of certain family members. The employee must first take “reasonable steps” to carry out these responsibilities by other means. There are exemptions. Employees are protected from reprisal for exercising this right.

Employers and employees may agree that instead of overtime pay, an employee will receive 1.5 hours of paid time off for each hour of overtime worked. These agreements must be in writing and are subject to certain conditions.

Employees will be entitled to unpaid breaks necessary for medical reasons. Employees who are nursing will be entitled to unpaid breaks to nurse or express milk.

New leaves of absence are being created for victims of family violence and for traditional Aboriginal practices. Bereavement leave is also being extended. Certain conditions apply. Changes are being made to personal leaves, medical leaves and court or jury duty leave.

Federal employees will have more vacation time and vacation pay. Employees with one year of service will be entitled to two weeks of vacation time and four per cent vacation pay. After five years of service, employees will be entitled to three weeks of vacation time and six per cent vacation pay. After 10 years of service, they will be entitled to four weeks of vacation time and eight per cent vacation pay.

Continuous service requirements are being removed for entitlement to maternity leave, parental leave, critical illness leave and death or disappearance leave, and for holiday pay.

Federally regulated employers will need to ensure that their policies and practices are revised to reflect these amendments.

Susan Kootnekoff is a lawyer with Inspire Law in Kelowna. The content of this article is intended to provide very general thoughts and general information, not to provide legal advice. Specialist advice from a qualified legal professional should be sought about your specific circumstances. If you would like to reach Inspire Law, call 250-764-7710 or email:info@inspirelaw.ca.