Labour & Employment Update - Canada Labour Code Amendments

On June 22, 2017, Bill C-44, the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No.1 received Royal Assent. The Act makes a number of changes to the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”) that will impact federally regulated employers, both unionized and non-unionized.

A date has not yet been set for when the changes will come into force.

This blog post provides a high level overview of the key amendments.

Unpaid Wages Recovery

  • The period for recovering unpaid wages will be extended from 12 to 24 months.

Unpaid Leaves of Absence

Workers with a Newborn or Adopted Child

  • Female workers will be permitted to begin their maternity leave up to 13 weeks prior to their due date, increasing from the current 11 weeks.
  • Workers will be entitled to take an unpaid leave of absence of up to 63 weeks to care for newborn or adopted children, increasing from the current 37 weeks.
  • The combined amount of maternity and parental leave that one or two employees may take for the same birth or adoption will increase to 78 weeks from the current 52 weeks.
  • The combined amount of parental leave that two employees may take for the same birth or adoption will increase to 63 weeks from the current 37 weeks.

Workers with a Critically Ill Child or Family Member

  • The definition of those eligible to take a leave of absence to care for a critically ill child will be expanded beyond a parent to a family member of a critically ill child. The eligibility period (6 months of continuous employment) and length of absence (37 weeks) will remain the same.
  • Workers who have completed six (6) months of continuous employment will be eligible for an unpaid leave of absence of up to 17 weeks to care for or support a critically ill family member who is an adult.

Administrative Monetary Penalties

  • A section called “Administrative Monetary Penalties” has been added to the Canada Labour Code.
  • Employers can now be penalized for up to and including $250,000 under this section, and any officer, director, agent, or any other person with managerial or supervisory functions can be liable for the penalty.
  • The specific Code provisions to which these penalties apply and the specific penalties will be identified in future Regulations.
  • The time limit for issuing a notice of violation is two years from the day on which the subject-matter of the violation arose.

Complaints Relating to Reprisals

  • A section called “Complaints Relating to Reprisals” has been added to the Code.
  • Employees will be able to make a complaint to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (the “CIRB”) if they believe that the employer has taken reprisals against them for making a complaint pursuant to Part III of the Code, seeking to exercise rights under Part III of the Code, providing information to assistance to the Minister, the CIRB or an inspector in exercising their duties under Part III of the Code or testifying in a proceeding or inquiry pursuant to Part III of the Code.
  • Such reprisals include, among other things: dismissing, suspending, laying off or demoting the employee or imposing a financial burden or penalty on the employee.
  • The time period for filing a complaint of retaliation is 90 days.

Inspector Orders

  • The authority of inspectors has been expanded. Inspectors can now issue compliance orders if they find that an employer has not complied with Code provisions on standard hours, wages, vacations,and holidays.

Internal Audit

  • The Minister of Labour may order an employer to conduct an internal audit of its books, payrolls, and other records to determine whether the employer is in compliance with the Code provisions on standard hours, wages, vacations, and holidays.
  • The Minister may order the audit report to contain any information that the Minister considers appropriate.
  • Once the audit is complete, employers must provide the audit report to the Minister.

Unjust Dismissal  

  • Unjust dismissal complaints that are not settled will now be referred to the CIRB, rather than an adjudicator, for determination.
  • We will provide further updates on these amendments including the date for the amendments coming into force and the specific details on administrative monetary penalties once they are set out by Regulation.

With special thanks to articling student Jisoo Vis for her assistance in drafting this post.    Please contact a member of the Labour, Employment and Human Rights Group if you have questions as to how these changes may affect your workplace.


About Us

Lawson Lundell's Labour and Employment Law Blog provides updates on the most recent legal developments impacting the Canadian workplace and offers practical tips for employers. We cover a range of topics, including labour relations, employment law, collective bargaining, human rights, employment standards, employment equity, workers' compensation, business immigration, privacy, occupational health and safety and pensions and employee benefits. 

Legal Disclaimer: The information made available on this webpage is for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on as such. Please contact our firm if you need legal advice or have questions about the content of this webpage. 




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