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Canada Labour Code Changes – What’s New & What’s Next

Woman reviewing Canada Labour Code

Seemingly never-ending changes to the Canada Labour Code have kept federally-regulated Canadian employers (i.e., banking, telecommunications, transportation industries) very busy over the last few years. (This is in addition to new federal laws governing accessibility, pay equity and the French language.)

With all this flux, it is easy to forget which amendments are in force and what changes are still to come (particularly when some amendments were passed years ago, but are not yet in force!) In this post, I provide a recap of amendments to the Code which came into force in 2023, and highlight what changes are coming next.

What’s New – 2023 Canada Labour Code Changes

New Employment Information

As of July 9, 2023, federal employers must provide two new types of employment information to their employees:

  • government materials on employers’ and employees’ rights and obligations under the Canada Labour Code (Government Information);
  • statements containing terms of an employee’s employment (Employee Statements).

Government Information must be posted in a readily accessible location in the workplace, and provided to employees:

  • within 30 days of: (1) the start of their employment; or (2) the information being updated by the government; and
  • whose employment has been terminated (as relates to termination of employment information).

Employee Statements must be provided to employees:

  • within 30 days of: (1) the start of their employment; or (2) the statement being updated; or
  • upon request.

Note: Employers must provide employment statements to existing employees (who were employed on July 9, 2023) by October 7, 2023.

For further details on these new employment information requirements, including a checklist of the information that must be included in Employee Statements, see our earlier post – Federal Employment Information – 2 Changes Coming.

Employee Reimbursements

Amendments to the Canada Labour Code requiring federally-regulated employers to reimburse employees for reasonable work expenses also came into force on July 9th. Reimbursements are required when the following conditions are met:

  • The employee paid the expense out-of-pocket, and they are not required to pay the expense per an agreement.
  • The expense is work-related and it is reasonable.

Reimbursements must be paid within 30 days of the day on which the employee submits the claim for payment. Regulations under the Code set out the factors to consider when determining whether a reimbursement is for work-related expenses, and whether it is reasonable. For further information on these reimbursement requirements, including details on the factors to consider, see our earlier post – New Federal Reimbursement Requirements.

What’s Next – Upcoming Canada Labour Code Changes

Access to Free Menstrual Products

So far, we know of at least one more change to the Code that will be coming into force in 2023 – requiring federal employers to provide free menstrual products to employees. This change comes into force on December 15, 2023.  (You may recall we posted about the draft regulations last year.)

Federally-regulated employers will be required to:

  • provide free menstrual products in each toilet room;
  • if it is not feasible to provide the menstrual products in a toilet room, provide them in another workplace location that can be accessed by employees at all times and offers a reasonable amount of privacy;
  • provide a covered container for the disposal of menstrual products in each toilet room (and in each stall, where applicable).

Currently, federal workplaces must provide a covered container for disposal of sanitary napkins in toilets used by female employees. It is important to note that these new requirements are no longer gender specific. The government notes that it is requiring menstrual products be provided in all washrooms to “ensure that the unique needs of non-binary individuals, transgender men, and intersex people are also addressed.”

Hours of Work Exemptions

In 2019, the federal government proclaimed in force Code amendments that included changes to hours of work requirements.

To recap, the following amendments came into force:

  • Shift Changes: Subject to exceptions for certain emergencies, an employer must provide 24 hours written notice of shift changes.
  • Scheduling: Employers must provide 96 hours notice in writing of an employee’s work schedule, subject to exceptions for certain emergencies and alternate time frames under a collective agreement.
  • Rest Periods: Employees are entitled to unpaid 30 minute breaks, plus rest periods of at least 8 hours between work periods/shifts, subject to exceptions for certain emergencies.

Last year, the federal government published exemptions and/or special rules with respect to the above requirements for the road transportation, postal/courier, marine and grain sectors.

Recently, the government published more regulations, exempting certain classes of employees in the following sectors from these requirements:

  • as of January 4, 2024 – banking, telecommunications and broadcasting and rail sectors;
  • as of June 4, 2024 – airlines.

Other Changes to Watch Out For

We are still waiting for other changes to come into force – some of which were passed back in 2018! These include amendments with respect to:

  • employer obligations when terminating 50+ employees within a 4-week period;
  • equal pay;
  • bereavement leave;
  • publication of employers convicted of an offence under the Code.

We will be reporting when these amendments come into effect, plus any new amendments to the Canada Labour Code.

How Compliance Works Helps HR Professionals

Compliance with continual amendments to the Canada Labour Code and other federal employment laws can be challenging and time consuming. Compliance Works helps federal employers and HR professionals to better understand their HR compliance responsibilities.

Canada Labour Code
Canada Labour Code Changes – What’s New & What’s Next 2

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About the author

Lesha Van Der Bij
Lesha Van Der Bij CEO and Co-Founder, Compliance Works
Lesha is a senior lawyer who spent many years of her legal career at major Canadian law firms reviewing legislation and creating easy-to-understand summaries for clients.

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