Legal News

2023 Updates to the Canada Labour Code

As we close in on the halfway point of 2023, we pause to review the changes that occurred this year for federally regulated employers under the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”).

Paid Medical Leave

As detailed in our January 2022 article, paid medical leave of 10 days per year came into effect on December 1, 2022.  Employees hired prior to December 1, 2022, will have accumulated 8 days of medical leave since that date.  Employees hired after that date will receive 3 days after 30 days of employment, and then will accumulate an additional day per month after 60 days employment up to the annual maximum of 10 days.

At the end of the year, an employee can carry forward unused medical leave to the following year. However, an employee can only accrue 10 medical leave days in any given year, including the carry-forward day(s).

An employer has the flexibility to define the year for paid medical leave; it can be the calendar year or it can be the period used for defining annual vacation entitlement.

As a reminder, employers may require a medical certificate when an employee has used five or more consecutive days of medical leave with pay, as long as the employer requests the medical certificate no later than 15 days after the employee’s return to work.

Paid medical leave under the Code was not intended to impact employers who already offer equal or greater paid sick leave under a collective agreement or an employment contract.  What this means is an employee cannot stack paid medical leave under the Code with other benefits which serve the same purpose and meet the same minimum requirements as paid medical leave under the Code.

Minimum Age for Employment

In 2016, the Federal Government ratified the International Labour Organization’s Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (C138). To ensure compliance, in 2018 the Government made amendments to the Code and corresponding regulations to raise the minimum age of employment from 17 to 18. These amendments came into force on June 12, 2023.

Now employers may only employ a person under the age of 18 in specific non-hazardous occupations. Under the regulations, employers also may not allow employees under 18 years old to work between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The amendments will not apply to current employees who are 17 years old on June 12, 2023, so long as they remain employed by the same employer in the position they held that day.

Reimbursement of work-related expenses and other amendments to the Code

A series of additional amendments to the Code will come into force on July 9, 2023.  First, it will be mandatory for employers to provide employees with material from the Minister of Labour regarding employers’ and employees’ rights and obligations under Part III of the Code (which pertains to hours of work, wages, vacation and holidays) at the start of the employment relationship. Similar material relating to an employee’s rights upon the termination of their employment will have to be provided on the last day of the employee’s employment.

Second, employers will have to provide employees with an employment statement within the first 30 days of their employment containing specific information that may typically be found in an employment agreement. This includes, amongst other information, the name of the parties, the job title and duties, the employee start date, the term of the employment, the duration of any probation period, the necessary qualifications for the position and the training requirements, the rate of pay and information on how to claim reimbursement of reasonable work-related expenses.  Employers will have until October 7, 2023, to provide existing employees with a compliant written employment statement if they have not already done so.

A third requirement concerns mandatory reimbursement of work-related expenses.  To assist employees seeking to be reimbursed for work-related expenses, employers will be required under the Code to reimburse reasonable work-related expenses within 30 days of when the expenses are incurred or required. The regulation lists a series of factors to consider in determining whether an expense is reasonable or work-related. Employees who are required to pay for some work-related expenses in accordance with a collective agreement or a written employment agreement will not be entitled to be reimbursed. This new provision applies only to expenses incurred on or after July 9, 2023.

If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact your Harris lawyer.