On September 1, 2019, a series of new amendments under the Canada Labour Code (“Code”) came into force, affecting hours of work and rest, overtime, flexible work arrangements, enhanced vacation entitlements, paid leaves and unpaid leaves. The federal government’s Labour Program has since published a number of Interpretations, Policies and Guidelines (“IPGs”), whose aim is to provide policy-based guidance to promote the consistent interpretation of legislation and effective delivery of programs across Canada. For more information on the September 1, 2019 amendments themselves, please consult the following Norton Rose Fulbright Canada resources:

For ease of reference, the IPGs that relate to the September 1, 2019 amendments are as follows:

  • IPG 091: Situation that the employer could not have reasonably foreseen – Exceptions: This IPG defines the meaning of a “situation that the employer could not have reasonably foreseen” for the purposes of breaks (section 169.1), rest periods (section 169.2), notice of schedule (section 173.01), work shift changes (section 173.1), and the limited right to refuse overtime to carry out family responsibilities (section 174.1).
  • IPG 092: Imminent or serious threat – Exceptions: This IPG defines the meaning of an “imminent or serious threat” for the purposes of breaks (section 169.1), rest periods between work periods or shifts (section 169.2), notice of schedule (section 173.01), notice of work shift changes (section 173.1), and the limited right to refuse overtime to carry out family responsibilities (section 174.1).
  • IPG 093: Threat of damage to or loss of property – Exceptions: This IPG defines the meaning of a “threat of damage to or loss of property” for the purposes of breaks (section 169.1), rest periods between work periods or shifts (section 169.2), notice of schedule (section 173.01), notice of work shift changes (section 173.1), and the limited right to refuse overtime to carry out family responsibilities (section 174.1).
  • IPG 094: Serious interference with the operation of the establishment – Exceptions: This IPG defines the meaning of a “serious interference with the operation of the establishment” for the purposes of breaks (section 169.1), rest periods between work periods or shifts (section 169.2), notice of schedule (section 173.01), notice of work shift changes (section 173.1), and limited right to refuse overtime to carry out family responsibilities (section 174.1).
  • IPG 095: Reasonable steps: This IPG defines the meaning of “reasonable steps” for the purposes of the limited right to refuse overtime to carry out family responsibilities (section 174.1).
  • IPG 096: Family responsibilities: This IPG defines the meaning of “family responsibilities” for the purposes of the limited right to refuse overtime to carry out family responsibilities (section 174.1), and for personal leave (section 206.6).
  • IPG 097: Family member: This IPG defines the meaning of “family member” for the purposes of the limited right to refuse overtime to carry out family responsibilities (section 174.1), and for personal leave (section 206.6).
  • IPG 098: Reasonably practicable: This IPG defines the meaning of “reasonable practicable” for the purposes of personal leave (section 206.6), leave for victims of family violence (section 206.7), and leave for traditional Aboriginal practices (section 206.8).
  • IPG 099: Stacking: This IPG discusses how the new personal leave provisions under section 206.6 of the Code apply in relation to employees whose contract or collective agreement provides for personal leave days (with or without pay) for one or more of the reasons listed in subsection 206.6(1).
  • IPG 100: 30-minute breaks: This IPG discusses and clarifies the meaning and scope of a “break of at least 30 minutes during every period of 5 consecutive hours of work” under section 169.1 of the Code.
  • IPG 101: Scope of application: This IPG defines the scope of application to certain classes of employees for the purposes of breaks (section 169.1), rest periods (section 169.2), notice of hours of work (section 173.01), and notice of shift changes (section 173.1). For more information on this IPG, please read our legal update, An interim break for employers? Policy-based exemptions from certain new provisions under the Canada Labour Code published.

As mentioned previously, the above-noted IPGs are intended to serve as policy-based tools for practical guidance. However, they do not necessarily bind administrative, judicial, quasi-judicial, and arbitral decision-makers in law. Indeed, in the past, decision-makers have chosen to apply, or not apply, other IPGs published under the Code based on what is reasonable in the circumstances of the case.[1] It remains to be seen how the IPGs discussed above will be applied by decision-makers in Canada. In the meantime, employers would be wise to observe these IPGs, while keeping in mind that their application in law may not always be determinative, and will be based on what is reasonable in all the circumstances.

The author would like to thank Catherine Cliff, articling student in Ottawa, for her contribution to this piece.

[1] See for instance, RWB Ranch Ltd. and Love, Re, 2013 CarswellNat 2160 at para 23, [2013] CLAD No 156.

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