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Menstrual Products – Free in Federal Workplaces

Woman at work providing free menstrual products

Menstrual products will be required to be provided at no cost to employees in federal workplaces when proposed changes to the Canada Labour Code (Code) regulations come into effect.

The Canadian federal government is moving forward with amendments, which will require employers to provide free menstrual products for the use of employees in workplace washrooms. These proposed changes come amid many pending updates for federal workplaces, including a new paid sick leave, potential changes to privacy legislation and more expansive language laws.

Menstrual Products – What are the New Federal Requirements?

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.”

While these changes are still in the form of draft regulations, it appears likely that they will be finalized. The regulations indicate that they will come into force six months after they are published in final form. In the meantime, employers and employees can submit comments on the proposed changes until November 14, 2022.

Do Any Other Canadian Jurisdictions Have Similar Requirements?

No. At this time, the federal government is the only Canadian jurisdiction planning to mandate the provision of free menstrual products in workplace washrooms.

Other Proposed Changes for Federal Employers

As noted above, federally-regulated employers are facing several upcoming and potential changes to applicable employment laws. The federal government is also currently seeking feedback on proposed changes to employee information and reimbursement of work-related expenses. Comments on these amendments are due by October 31, 2022.

Employee Information

In 2018, the federal government passed Bill C-86, Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2, which included an amendment to the Code requiring employers to provide a written statement containing specified information to employees within 30 days of: (i) starting employment; or (ii) updating the information. A proposed amendment to the regulation sets out the information that must be provided to employees. Essentially, employers will be required to provide a written statement setting out the terms of employment, including job title and description, location, period of employment, training, hours of work and compensation.

Reimbursement of Work-Related Expenses

Bill C-86 also included an amendment to the Code, which will require employers to provide reimbursement of reasonable work-related expenses. The proposed amendment sets out the factors to consider in determining whether or not an expense is work-related and is reasonable. It also specifies that the employer must reimburse pay the employee within 30 days of the day on which the employee submits the claim.

How Compliance Works Helps HR Professionals

Compliance with constantly changing employment laws and ongoing changes can be challenging and time consuming.  Compliance Works helps federal employers and HR professionals understand with more confidence their responsibilities for HR Compliance.

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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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