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Paid and unpaid leaves to be expanded for federally regulated employees

On December 13, 2018, the federal government passed Bill C-86 which, among other things, will expand certain paid and unpaid leaves for federally regulated employers and employees under the Canada Labour Code (the Code).

In order to facilitate the new Employment Insurance parental sharing benefit, which becomes effective in March 2019, the Code is amended to increase the aggregate amount of parental leave that may be taken by two parents from 63 weeks to 71 weeks. However, as before, no one employee may take more than 63 weeks of leave with respect to the same birth or adoption. Similarly, the aggregate amount of combined maternity and parental leave that may be taken by two parents is increased from 78 weeks to 86 weeks, with no one employee taking more than 78 weeks of leave with respect to the same birth or adoption.

Bill C-86 also makes available several new types of leave. Specifically, it now provides five days of personal leave for all employees. Three of those days will be paid if the employee has completed at least 3 months of employment. Grounds for granting personal leave will include leave for:

  • treating an employee’s illness or injury;
  • carrying out responsibilities related to the health or care of any of the employee’s family members;
  • carrying out responsibilities related to the education of any of their family members who are under 18 years of age;
  • addressing any urgent matter concerning themselves or their family members;
  • attending the employee’s citizenship ceremony; and
  • any other reason prescribed by regulation.

Bill C-86 also provides that the first five days of leave for victims of family violence shall be paid for employees who have completed 3 months of employment.

Effective September 1, 2019, employees will no longer be required to complete 6 months of employment before being entitled to maternity leave or parental leave, leave to care for a child or adult with a critical illness, or a leave related to death or disappearance of a child. Also effective September 1, 2019, employees will be entitled to unlimited unpaid leave to be a witness in court or for jury duty.


The changes to the Code resulting from Bill C-86 continue the trend of expanding employee leaves, providing for employer-paid leaves in some circumstances. These changes will be of interest to federally regulated employers and employees. Other than the changes that come into force on September 1, 2019, the changes will come into force upon proclamation by the federal government.

News & Views - January 2019 (PDF)