Big Changes to Federal Labour Standards

Bill C-86, which brought amendments to the Federal budget also came with a huge number of changes to the Federal Labour Code (the national equivalent of the Employment Standards Act) and the changes come into effect on September 1, 2019.

The Federal Labour Code covers workers in the banking, radio & television broadcasting, telecommunications, inter-provincial railways, air transportation (including airlines) and shipping industries.

Two very notable changes which I feel are “ground-breaking” and overdue- Traditional Aboriginal Practices leave, which provides “up to 5 days per calendar year to engage in traditional aboriginal practices”; and Breaks for Health Reasons which provides unpaid “breaks for nursing mothers and for other medical reasons”.

There are changes to scheduling practices (adding 96-hour notice rules), vacation entitlements, and a number of leaves of absence almost identical to the Ontario leaves will be implemented – family medical, child death, domestic violence, and others. Employees will now also have the right to request, after 6 months of employment, the ability to work from home or have “flexible” working arrangements, and the employer must attempt to honour the request.

The government states that they are trying to “modernize” the federal employment legislation, and I would agree that there were definitely some updates needed.  I am hope that the Medical Breaks and Aboriginal Practices leave would be adopted by the Provinces in the future.

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