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Bill C-86: Big Changes to Federal Workplace Legislation

While most workplaces in Ontario are governed by provincial employment legislation, there are a number of federally regulated industries that are governed by the Canada Labour Code. Those industries include shipping, railways, air transportation, telecommunication, radio broadcasting, banking and inter-provincial transportation.

In December 2018, the federal government passed Bill C-86, which makes significant amendments to the Canada Labour Code. These changes are being compared to those made by Ontario’s previous liberal government under Bill 147 (which have since been largely overturned by the current government with Bill 47).

Some of the key changes to the Canada Labour Code are:

  • Employees are entitled to an unpaid break of at least 30 minutes for every five consecutive hours of work, and at least 8 consecutive hours off between work periods;
  • Employers must provide work schedules in writing at least 96 hours before the first scheduled shift;
  • Employers are prohibited from paying employees different wage rates based on employment status (equal pay for equal work);
  • Temporary help agencies are prohibited from charging fees to assignment employees or preventing assignment employees from obtaining work directly from the client;
  • Paid vacation entitlement is increased to two weeks of paid for vacation for those with more than one year but less than five years of service, 3 weeks for those with more than five years of service, and 4 weeks for those with more than 10 years of service;
  • There is no more 30-day service requirement to be entitled to holiday pay;
  • Termination entitlements for group termination and individuals terminations are increased;
  • The length of service requirement for statutory leaves has been eliminated and the Code has added leave for court or jury duty, medical leave, personal leave and leaves for victims of family violence.

Many of the above changes will not come into effect until September 1, 2019, at the earliest, including the changes regarding termination notice, equal pay for equal work, vacation and holiday pay and work scheduling. The remaining changes will come into force at a date fixed by order of the Governor in Council.