Thank you, Mr. Chair. I will begin.
Division 8 of part 5 of the budget implementation act is focused on proposed changes to part III of the Canada Labour Code, and the need in particular to provide greater flexibility for employees to give them more ways to balance the demands they face at work and outside of work.
Part III of the code, as you may know, establishes minimum working conditions for about 900,000 employees in the federally regulated private sector. That includes industries such as banking, telecommunications, interprovincial and international transportation, as well as federal crown corporations. Part III sets out the rules for things like maximum hours of work, minimum wages, hours of work, scheduling, and a number of leaves and provisions with respect to termination of employment. There is a total of about 18,000 employers who are covered by part III.
Nearly 60% of Canadians regularly say they are overloaded due to the pressures associated with the multiple roles they play at work and outside of work. Allowing employees to seek changes to where, when, and how they do their work, and also to take time away from work to deal with family and other responsibilities without fear of losing their jobs benefits employees and employers. There are benefits through improved well-being, reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, better recruitment and retention of labour, better employee engagement, greater labour market attachment, and increased productivity in innovation.
With this in mind, division 8 proposes three sets of changes to part III of the code.
The first is to introduce a right for an employee to request changes to the terms and conditions of their employment related to the number of hours they work, their work schedule, and the location of their work, on a temporary or permanent basis. An employee would be able to make an unlimited number of requests, subject to any regulations that may be set at a later point in time. The employer could refuse a request on specific grounds, such as the cost being burdensome, or that accepting the change would have negative impacts on business performance. The employer would be prohibited from taking reprisal against an employee who makes a request for flexible work arrangements.
The second set of changes relate to the creation of three new unpaid leaves that would allow employees in the federally regulated private sector to take job-protected time away from work. The first is an unpaid family responsibility leave of up to three days. The second is unpaid leave for victims of family violence of up to 10 days. The third is unpaid leave for traditional aboriginal practices of up to five days. The existing bereavement leave under part III of the code would also be enhanced, adding to unpaid days, and giving employees more flexibility with regard to when they actually take their bereavement leave.
The third and final set of changes is being proposed in order to implement the right to request, codify certain existing practices, and remove a provision that is outdated. These changes would amend provisions related to hours of work, annual vacations, and general holidays—again, to allow more flexibility. The changes would also repeal an existing provision that requires a commission of inquiry to be established before certain hours of work regulations are put in place or changed.