Canada adds exemptions from hours of work requirements for certain employees

The amendments related to the banking, telecommunications and broadcasting, and rail sectors

Canada adds exemptions from hours of work requirements for certain employees

by Rhonda B. Levy and Barry Kuretzky of Littler 

On August 16, 2023, Canada published Regulation SOR/2023-180 under the Canada Labour Code (CLC) (Amending Regulation).  The Amending Regulation exempts certain classes of employees in the banking, telecommunications and broadcasting, rail and airline sectors from specified hours of work requirements in the CLC.    

By way of background, in September 2019, the Canadian federal government proclaimed in force via Bill C-63, Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2 and Bill C-86, Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2, amendments to the hours of work provisions in the CLC “to support work-life balance by providing employees with more predictability in relation to their hours of work.” The amendments relate to work schedules, shift changes or additions, breaks, and rest periods, and specifically require employers to provide their employees:

  • at least 96 hours’ written notice of their work schedules;
  • at least 24 hours’ written notice of shift changes or additions;
  • an unpaid break of at least 30 minutes during every period of 5 consecutive hours of work; and
  • a rest period of at least 8 consecutive hours between work periods or shifts.  

In September 2021, the federal government published Exemptions from and Modifications to Hours of Work Provisions Regulations: SOR/2021-200 (Exemption Regulation), which exempted certain federally regulated industries (the road transportation, postal/courier, marine, and grain sectors) from the above amendments.  The Exemption Regulation came into force on February 1, 2022.

New Regulation Amends Exemptions Regulation

The Amending Regulation expands the exemption to additional industries. According to the Amending Regulation’s Regulatory Impact Statement:

The operational reality in sectors with continuous operations (i.e. those that generally operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week such as air and rail transportation) and in sectors with unique scheduling practices (such as banking, telecommunications and broadcasting) is such that scheduling flexibility is required…

…The primary objective of the Regulations is to support the implementation of new hours of work provisions (sections 169.1, 169.2, 173.01 and 173.1 of the Code) in order to balance the operational realities of certain industries with the legislative goal of providing employees with work-life balance and more predictability in relation to their hours of work.

To view summaries of the exemptions from and modifications to the hours of work provisions made by the Amending Regulation for specific classes of employees in each sector, see the Regulatory Impact Statement under the heading “Discussion” at Tables 3 (Air transportation sector), 4 (Rail transportation sector), 5 (Banking sector) and 6 (Telecommunications and broadcasting sector).  

The Amending Regulation also repeals the Schedule in and the Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulation that establishes penalties for breaches under the Exemption Regulation, effective immediately.

The amendments related to the banking, telecommunications and broadcasting, and rail sectors come into force on January 4, 2024, while the amendments related to the air sector come into force on June 4, 2024.

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