There is a lot in the latest federal budget for Canadian parents, including more funding for childcare and a proposal to extend parental leave to 18 months. But there’s another, little-noticed measure that those balancing work and family will cheer: Allowing federally-regulated workers to request flexible work arrangements from their employers.
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That could include things like the ability to have “flexible start and finish times and the ability to work from home,” the budget document reads.
The government stops short of making it mandatory for employers to grant such requests. But companies that deny a demand for flexible work arrangements would likely have to formally justify their decision, according to Nora Spinks, CEO of the Vanier Institute of the Family.
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Here are the business and industries which the change will likely apply
The change would apply to Canadians whose work is regulated by the Canada Labour Code. According to the government-provided list below, you are “more than likely working in a federally regulated sector” if you are employed in one of the following businesses and industries:
- marine shipping, ferry and port services
- air transportation, including airports, aerodromes and airlines
- railway and road transportation that involves crossing provincial or international borders
- canals, pipelines, tunnels and bridges (crossing provincial borders)
- telephone, telegraph and cable systems
- radio and television broadcasting
- grain elevators, feed and seed mills
- uranium mining and processing
- businesses dealing with the protection of fisheries as a natural resource
- many First Nations activities
- most federal Crown corporations
- private businesses necessary to the operation of a federal act
The ability to request flexible work arrangements “will benefit many women who continue to do the majority of unpaid work in the home,” according to the budget.
But what about all the working moms who don’t work in a federally-regulated sector?
Federal amendments might give provinces the impetus to follow suit
“The federal government can’t mandate provinces to change their own legislation,” said Spinks, so the changes won’t affect Canadians whose work is provincially regulated.
However, she added, federal and provincial legislation tends to harmonize over time.
The changes mean that the federal government “set a new bar that provincial legislation may rise to,” if it doesn’t already exceed it, said Spinks.
Some collective agreements, which supersede both federal and provincial legislation, may also see the new federal flex work rules as a benchmark, added Spinks.
Federally-regulated workers would also get new unpaid leave
The budget also proposes providing federally-regulated workers with “new unpaid leaves for family responsibilities, to participate in traditional Indigenous practices, and to seek care if they are victims of family violence.”
It also promises more flexibility for bereavement leave, granted after the death of an immediate family member.