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Modernizing the Canada Labour Code: What’s in force now and what’s coming? | Canada | Global law firm

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Modernizing the Canada Labour Code: What’s in force now and what’s coming? | Canada | Global law firm

Several changes to employer obligations under the Canada Labour Code (the Code) are coming into effect throughout 2023-2024. The in-force dates for long-expected amendments to the Canada Labour Code have been set. Some have already passed. This legal update contains a brief summary of changes that are now fixed, and a summary of further expected changes to federal legislation set out in the government’s roadmap for further reform.

Changes currently in force

Two Code changes have already come into effect – regarding employment statements and reimbursement of work-related expenses.

Employment Statements

As of July 9, 2023, the Code requires that employers provide each employee with a statement of employment conditions. The deadline for doing so is:

  • for existing employees, 90 days after the requirement came into force (i.e. October 7, 2023).
  • for new employees, within the first 30 days of employment. 
  • for all employees, within 30 days of any changes. 

Employers are required to retain written employment statements for 36 months after employment ends. Employment and Social Development Canada has a template employment statement for use by employers available here.

Reimbursement of Reasonable Work-Related Expenses

Also as of July 9, 2023, the Code requires that employers reimburse reasonable work-related, out-of-pocket expenses incurred by employees. The deadline for doing so is within 30 days after employees submit their expense claims to the employer, unless they have agreed to another timeline in writing or in a collective agreement. 

Employment and Social Development Canada published a guideline clarifying the expense reimbursement rules. We have published a legal update summarizing that guidance document.

Upcoming scheduled changes

Two additional Code changes are scheduled to come into effect in the near future – regarding supply of menstrual products and employee termination entitlements.

Provision of Menstrual Products in the Workplace

As of December 15, 2023, employers must provide menstrual products (including clean and hygienic tampons and menstrual pads) in each toilet room, as well as a covered container for the disposal of menstrual products in any toilet and stall in their facility. Employers may provide menstrual products in another location in lieu of the toilet room provided that it is controlled by the employer, accessible by employees and offers a reasonable amount of privacy. 

Greater Termination Entitlements and Statement of Entitlements

As of February 1, 2024, the notice of termination (or pay in lieu of notice) owed to employees upon termination without cause will increase to the following amounts:

  • Two weeks after three consecutive months of continuous employment, 
  • Three weeks after three consecutive years of continuous employment, 
  • One additional week per consecutive year of continuous employment, up to a maximum of eight weeks. 

Also as of February 1, 2024, employers must provide a written statement to terminated employees listing their vacation benefits, wages, severance pay and other benefits and pay arising from their employment as of the date of the statement.  

For more information on the expanded notice requirements see our recent legal update on the subject.

Planned but unscheduled changes

In addition to the changes outlined above, the government intends to finalize several additional changes to Code regulations and the Pay Equity Act by fall of 2023, with the expectation these will be declared in force by 2025.

Amendments to the Canada Labour Standards Regulations 

  • Long-term Disability Plans (LTD Plans). Certain employers will be permitted to offer uninsured long-term disability plans, while still providing protection from insolvency to the same extent as a plan insured by a financial institution or licensed insurance provider. 

Amendments to the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations

  • Equal Treatment and Temporary Help Agencies. A requirement for equal treatment and equal compensation between employees regardless of their employment status (i.e. permanent employees vs. workers contracted through a temporary help agency). 
  • Levels of Sound and Personal Protective Equipment. Updating and harmonizing rules related to sound levels in the workplace and protection of employees from noise exposure, including the rules around personal protective equipment (PPE). Concerned parties and the public will have an opportunity to comment when this proposed regulation is published.
  • Reporting Requirements. Modernizing the reporting requirements by replacing the forms currently included in the schedules of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and encouraging electronic filing of the reports. 
  • Recognizing all Toilets. Allowing employers to count gender-inclusive toilets toward minimum toilet numbers in a facility. Current minimum requirements are based on toilets reserved for male and female use.  
  • Hazardous Materials. Updating the exposure limits and regulatory requirements in relation to exposure to thermal stress, nanomaterials, non-solar ultraviolet radiation, and radon. 

Amendments to the Pay Equity Act

  • Monetary Penalties and Other Regulations. Developing a system of administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) to deter non-compliance with the Pay Equity Act. The new regulation will allow the Pay Equity Commissioner to levy penalties for violations of legislation, regulations and orders made by the commissioner. In addition, these regulations would set requirements for developing and maintaining a pay equity plan when there are no predominantly male job classes in the workplace.

The author wishes to thank Dante Trunzo, law student, for his contribution to preparing this legal update. 


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