Labour Law

Exemptions and Modifications to the Hours of Work Requirements under the Canada Labour Code

Effective February 1, 2022, new regulations under the Canada Labour Code (“Code”) will come in to effect. These new exemptions and modifications to the hours of work requirements under the Canada Labour Code (“Code”) will apply to certain federally regulated sectors as a result of the coming into force of the Exemptions from and Modifications to Hours of Work Provisions Regulations SOR/2021-200 (“Regulations”).

The Regulations apply to specified classes of employees in the road transportation, postal, courier, marine and grain sectors.

The Regulations exempt or modify certain classes of employees in these sectors from one or more of the following provisions of the Code:

  • 96 hours’ notice of work schedule;
  • 24 hours’ notice of shift change;
  • 30-minute breaks every 5 hours of work; and
  • 8 hour rest periods between work periods or shifts.

(collectively, the “Provisions”)

The Provisions came into force on September 1, 2019 with the stated goal of supporting work-life balance by providing employees with more predictability in relation to their hours of work. However, the Code permitted the Governor in Council to exempt or modify classes of employees from the application of the Provisions.

The Regulations were introduced after consultation with various stakeholders, including federally regulated employers in the affected sectors, who raised concerns that they would be unable to meet some or all of the requirements of the Provisions because of the nature of employment in their respective industries.

Employers in the sectors affected by the Regulations should review the Regulations to determine what exemptions and modifications apply to their industry and to what classes of employees the Regulations apply.

Further Proposed Regulations – submissions open until February 23, 2022

In addition to the above Regulations, exemptions and modifications for the air and rail transportation, banking, and telecommunications and broadcasting sectors were proposed on December 25, 2021 (“Proposed Regulations”).  Interested parties have 60 days, until February 23, 2022 to make submissions in response to the Proposed Regulations. We recommend that employers in these sectors review the proposed exemptions and modifications and determine whether they sufficiently meet the needs of their industry. If employers remain concerned with the proposed exemptions and modifications, they can make submissions to the Acting Director of Labour Standards and Wage Earner Protection Program.

Please note that the Federal Government’s Labour Program previously issued an Interpretations, Policies and Guidelines Bulletin on the application of the Provisions in affected sectors. This bulletin continues to apply until the Regulations or Proposed Regulations (as applicable) come into force for those sectors.

We would be pleased to address any questions that you have regarding the Regulations and Proposed Regulations as well as regarding their implications.