Changes Coming to the Canada Labour Code


On December 13, 2018, Bill C-86, the Budget Implementation Act, No. 2, received Royal Assent, including changes to the Canada Labour Code (Part III) for 2019 that will affect federally regulated employers such as interprovincial motor carriers.

Amendments to the CLC are related to efforts to modernize labour standards, including the public consultation undertaken by Employment and Skills Development Canada from May 2017 to March 2018. Following is a summary of the most applicable changes, many of which will be enforced by September 2019.

Following are highlights:

Independent contractors – employees

  • Employers are prohibited from treating an employee as if he or she is not their employee in order to avoid their obligations or to deprive the employee of their rights. The employer bears responsibility for proving an individual is not an employee in the event of any claim, so should review agreements with independent contractors to ensure clarity.

Equal pay

The amendments require employers to pay casual, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees equally to their full-time counterparts, as long as the work is substantially the same, requiring the same skill, effort and responsibility. Employers may, however, retain wage systems accounting for seniority, merit and other considerations.

Hours of work

  • The amendments add an unpaid break of 30 minutes for every five hours of work, as well as a minimum eight-hour rest period between shifts. Employees who require them are entitle to unpaid breaks for breastfeeding or pumping breastmilk, or for medical reasons.


The amendments:

  • eliminate minimum length-of-service requirements for general holiday pay, sick leave, maternity leave, parental leave, leave related to critical illness and leave related to death or disappearance of a child;
  • reduce the length of service required to be eligible for three weeks of vacation with pay from 6 years to 5 years;
  • provide four weeks of vacation with pay after 10 or more years of service;
  • introduce a new 5-day personal leave, of which 3 days are paid, and 5 days of paid leave for victims of family violence (out of 10 days in total);
  • allow employees to use medical leave for medical appointments as well as organ or tissue donation, and employers can only request a certificate for leave of 3 or more consecutive days; and
  • provide a new unpaid leave for court or jury duty.

Work-life balance

  • Employers must provide employees with at least 96 hours’ advance notice in writing of their schedules; employees may refuse a shift that starts within 96 hours of notice (with some exceptions). This doesn’t apply to workplaces governed by a collective agreement with a different timeframe.

Employees in precarious work

  • Employers must provide employees with information about their rights and entitlements and their conditions of employment and inform all employees about employment or promotion opportunities; and
    An employee may seek reimbursement of work-related expenses.


  • Where 50 or more employees are being terminated, employers may provide pay in lieu of the required 16-week group notice (or a combination of notice and pay in lieu) and require that employees be given eight weeks’ notice of termination or pay in lieu;
  • for individual termination, employers may provide notice that will range from two weeks’ notice or pay in lieu of notice or a combination of notice and pay in lieu, for employees with between three months and less than three years of continuous employment to a maximum of eight weeks after eight years of continuous employment; and
  • employers must inform terminated employees about their termination rights.
    These summaries are selected and unofficial. Please ensure you obtain qualified advice should you require information about any of these amendments.

Additional resources

Bill C-86
Backgrounder – Modernizing Labour Standards