Big changes to the Canada Labour Code

Are you a federally regulated business? If so, some substantial changes to the Canada Labour Code are subject to come into effect at staggered dates throughout 2019 / 2020. Not sure if you’re federally regulated? Click here for more information. Below’s a brief overview of the key changes that could affect your workplace. 

Notice of schedule

  • Employers will be required to provide a minimum of 96 hours’ written notice before the start of an employee’s first work period or shift.
  • The employer will have to give the employee 24 hours’ notice when changing an existing shift.

Rest periods

  • Employees will be allowed a 30-minute unpaid break for every 5 hours of consecutive work. 
  • If an employee must remain available to work during that break, it must be a paid break. 
  • Employees are entitled to 8 consecutive hours free between each shift / work period.


  • Employees can refuse to work overtime when the overtime conflicts with family responsibilities (e.g. caring for a sick family member, picking up a child from school). 
  • However, the employee must have taken reasonable steps to find a way to fulfil a family responsibility in a way that does not prevent them from working overtime.  

Flexible work arrangements

  • Employees will have the ability to ask for flexible work arrangements; for example, they can request to change the number of hours worked per week, changes to their schedule, or changes to their work location. 
  • Employees will be protected from reprisals as a result of this request.

Learn more

Vacation / Holiday pay

  • Vacation entitlements will increase: 
    • 1 year of service: 2 weeks’ vacation (or 4% vacation pay)
    • 5 years of service: 3 weeks’ vacation (or 6% vacation pay)
    • 10 years of service: 4 weeks’ vacation (or 8% vacation pay)
  • All employees are entitled to holiday pay. There is no longer a minimum 30-day service requirement. 

Personal leave

  • Employees will be entitled to 5 days of personal leave annually, with the first 3 days being paid after 3 months of continuous employment. 
  • Employees will be eligible for this leave under the following circumstances:
    • Treating personal illness or injury.
    • Carrying out responsibilities related to the health or care of any of their family members.
    • Carrying out responsibilities related to the education of any of their family members who are under 18 years of age.
    • Addressing any urgent matter concerning themselves or their family members.
    • Attending their citizenship ceremony.

Medical leave

  • Employees will be eligible for up to 17 weeks of unpaid leave for the following circumstances: 
    • Personal illness or injury
    • Organ or tissue donation
    • Medical appointments during work hours
  • If an employee is absent for 3 or more consecutive days, the employer can request for a medical note issued by a health care professional. 

Leave for victims of family violence

  • Employees will be allowed 10 days of leave, including 5 days of paid leave, for victims of family violence.

Other leave

  • Employees will no longer be required to complete 6 months of continuous service before being entitled to maternity leave, parental leave, a leave related to critical illness or a leave related to death or disappearance.

Learn more about the leaves of absences.

Expected changes to be implemented in 2020 (exact date is TBC):

Termination of Individuals

  • New graduated notice of termination (or pay in lieu) based on continuous length of service:
    • 3 months = 2 weeks’ notice
    • 3 years =  3 weeks’ notice  
    • 4 years =  4 weeks’ notice  
    • 5 years = 5 weeks’ notice  
    • 6 years =  6 weeks’ notice  
    • 7 years =  7 weeks’ notice  
    • 8 years =  8 weeks’ notice  


  • Interns working in federally regulated workplaces must receive full occupational health and safety and labour standards protections, and in most circumstances, must be paid.

Harassment & Violence

  • Federally regulated workplaces must be free from harassment and violence.

Work-related expenses

  • Employees will be allowed to recover work-related expenses. 

Minimum age of employment

  • Increase of minimum age for work in hazardous occupations from 17 to 18 years. 

Equal pay

  • No employee (including part-time, casual, contract or seasonal) may be paid less than what is paid to full-time employees who perform the same job.

Pay equity

  • Employers with 10 or more employees will be required to establish and enact a pay equity plan. 
  • More specifically, employers will be responsible to provide male and female employees with equal pay for work performed which is of equal value. 

For further clarification or if you have any concerns regarding these new labour code changes, our Business Counsellors are available to help all CFIB members at 1-888-234-2232 or by email at