June 2024 has seen many changes to employment laws for federally regulated workplaces. Some are effective immediately, and some will come into effect on a future date. This update briefly summarizes the most noteworthy of these changes.

Pay Equity Regulations

In June the federal government released three amendments to the Pay Equity Regulations:

  • Regulations Amending the Pay Equity Regulations (Administrative Monetary Penalties and Technical Amendments): SOR/2024-101
  • Order Grouping Ministers’ Offices for the Purpose of a Pay Equity Plan: SOR/2024-116
  • Application of the Pay Equity Act to Ministers’ Offices Regulations: SOR/2024-117

The first of these, SOR/2024-101, has the broadest impact on private sector employers. Among other changes, SOR/2024-101 clarifies the information required in pay equity reports and the proper composition of comparator job classes where there are no predominantly male job classes in the workplace. It also provides a framework for issuing administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) for non-compliance with reporting requirements. 

These amendments to the Pay Equity Regulations are effective immediately.

For more information on upcoming federal pay equity compliance deadlines, see our legal update.

Replacement worker prohibition

On June 20, Bill C-58, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Canada Industrial Relations Board Regulations, 2012, received royal assent.

Bill C-58’s amendments to Part I of the Canada Labour Code (the Code) include:

  • Replacement Worker Prohibition: Employers will be prohibited from using replacement workers, or bargaining unit workers who seek to “cross the picket line,” to do the work of unionized employees in a bargaining unit that is on strike or locked out, subject to narrow exceptions. The unlawful use of replacement workers will constitute an offence that may give rise to a fine not exceeding $100,000 for each day if the employer is found guilty.
  • Mandatory Maintenance of Activities Agreements: Under the Code, employers, unions and bargaining unit employees engaged in a strike or lockout must maintain services, operations of facilities or production of goods to the extent necessary to prevent an immediate and serious danger to the safety or health of the public. At present, an employer or union has the option of triggering an agreement process on “Maintenance of Activities.” Bill C-58 will make these agreements mandatory, and provides a firm schedule for concluding the agreement and adjudicating any related disputes. 

Bill C-58’s amendments to the Code will come into force on June 20, 2025. Once the amendments come into effect, the replacement worker prohibition will apply to any ongoing strikes or lockouts, meaning ongoing use of replacement workers must cease.

For more information on the labour relations amendments, see our legal update

Expanded leaves of absence

On June 20, 2024, Federal Bill C-59, Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2023, received royal assent. Bill C-59 facilitates the following amendments to the Code (in part by updating prior amending legislation not yet in force):

  • Pregnancy Loss Leave: Employees will have access to a new leave of absence related to pregnancy loss of eight weeks in cases of stillbirth, or three days in the case of any other form of pregnancy loss. The leave will be available where the pregnancy loss is experienced by employees, by their spouses, or by a pregnant person where the employee intended to be the legal parent of the child if the pregnancy ended in a live birth. If the employee has completed three consecutive months of continuous employment, the first three days of this leave are paid.
  • Bereavement Leave: Bereavement leave will be expanded to entitle employees to eight weeks of unpaid leave in the event of the death of a child. Bereavement leave will also be amended to make it more consistent with other Code leaves, including requiring an employee’s written notice to include the reasons for a leave and written notice for changes to the length of the leave.

These amendments are scheduled to come into force on December 17, 2025, or on an earlier date to be fixed by order.

  • Leave for Placement of a Child: At present, parents welcoming a child through adoption or surrogacy have access to the same parental leave as biological parents (up to 63 weeks of parental leave). A new 16-week leave of absence, similar to maternity leave, will be available for employees who are undertaking responsibilities respecting placement of a child into their care, whether through adoption or surrogacy. 

    Corresponding amendments will be made to the Employment Insurance Act to create a new 15-week benefit for claimants taking on these responsibilities for a newly arrived child, either through adoption or surrogacy.

These amendments are to come into force on a date to be fixed by order. 

Bill C-69 Re 2024 budget

On June 20, federal Bill C-69, Budget Implementation Act, 2024, No.1, received royal assent. Bill C-69 includes the following amendments to the Canada Labour Code.

  • Presumption of Employment Status: Parts I, II and III of the Code are amended to add a new presumption of employee status for “a person who is paid remuneration by an employer.” In Code  proceedings other than prosecutions, employers will bear the onus of proving non-employee status. Currently the reverse is normally the case – an individual asserting employee status must prove it. This reversed presumption is intended to make it more difficult for employers to characterize workers as “independent contractors,” and therefore make it easier for workers to assert employee status and receive Code benefits and protections, unless employers can prove otherwise.

    Further, employers are prohibited from treating employees as if they are non-employees. Doing so may lead to an order, a requirement to pay remuneration, an unfair labour practice, or a complaint and related investigation.

    These amendments are in force as of royal assent – June 20, 2024.
  • Disconnecting from Work Policy: Employers will be required to establish a disconnecting from work policy. The policy must include:
    • a general rule respecting work-related communication outside of scheduled hours of work, including the employer’s expectations and any opportunity for employees to disconnect from means of communication;
    • any exceptions to the rule and their underlying rationale;
    • the effective date of the policy; and
    • any other elements that may be prescribed by regulation.

Employers will be required to consult with affected employees or unions and, for non-unionized employees, provide a 90-day period for feedback. Employers must also keep a record of consultations. 

The disconnecting from work provisions will come into force on a date yet to be fixed by order. Employers will have one year from that date to develop a policy.

The author would like to thank Ammar Thaver, law student, for his contribution to preparing this legal update.




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