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Significant changes have been made to the Canada Labour Code that will impact Federal Sector Employees. The changes were to take effect on September 17, 2019. This article highlights some of the areas of the Canada Labour Code that have been impacted.

Who are Federal Sector Employees?

Federal Sector Employees are employees who work for federally regulated businesses such as banks, air transportation, railway, telephone and cable companies, radio and television broadcasters, etc.

Scheduling – Employers must provide 96 hours written notice to employees of their work schedule prior to the start of their first shift. If the employer fails to provide 96 hours notice, the employee has the right to refuse any work period that starts within 96 hours from the time the schedule was provided. Employers are prohibited from reprising against employees who refuse a shift for which they did not receive 96 hours notice.

Shift Changes – The employer must provide the employee with 24 hour written notice of a shift change. Where there is a threat or safety risk to a person or property, the employer is not required to provide written notice of shift change.

Overtime – Employees now have the option to use their overtime hours (paid at time and a half) towards paid time off. The paid time off must be taken within three months following the day the employee worked the overtime hours. There must be a written agreement between employee and the employer.

Employees have the right to refuse to work overtime in order to carry out family responsibilities. There are certain circumstances where the employee cannot refuse to work overtime, for example when there is a threat to the safety of a person or property. Employers are prohibited from reprising against employees who refuse to work overtime.

Breaks and Rest Periods – Employees are entitled to a 30 minute unpaid break for every 5 consecutive hours worked and a rest period of at least 8 hours between shifts.

Vacation and Holiday

  • 2 weeks vacation after 1 year of employment.
  • 3 weeks vacation after 5 consecutive years of employment with the same employer.
  • 4 weeks vacation after 10 consecutive years of employment with the same employer.

Holiday Pay – Minimum length of service is no longer a requirement for holiday pay.

Flexible work arrangements – After 6 months of continuous employment, employees have the right to request a change to their schedule, number of hours worked and location of work. The employer has 30 days to respond in writing.

Leaves of absence – Employees are no longer required to meet service requirements to apply for maternity and parental leave, leave related to critical illness, or leave related to death or disappearance. Under the previous bill employees had to provide a medical note from a qualified practitioner however the new bill will allow employers to accept medical notes from a defined group of health care practitioners.

Employees are also entitled to unpaid breaks for medical reasons and are still required to provide a medical certificate from a health care practitioner. Employees are also entitled to breaks necessary to nurse or to extract breast milk.

The new bill introduces a number of new leaves.

  • Leave for Victims of Family Violence – Up to 5 paid days per calendar year after 3 months of continuous employment.
  • Personal Leave – Up to 5 days per calendar year (3 paid days) after 3 months of continuous employment.
  • Leave for Traditional Aboriginal practices – Up to 5 days per calendar year for employees of Aboriginal descent to participate in Aboriginal practices.
  • Bereavement Leave – Up to 5 days per calendar year (3 paid days) after 3 months of continuous employment.

The changes to the Labour Code will provide more flexibility, better work-life-balance, better working conditions, and fair treatment and compensation for all Federal Sector Employees. Employers are encouraged to review their human resources policies to ensure compliance. This article highlights only some of the amendments that have been made.

Learn more

For a full review please refer to the Canada labour code for more details.


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