The Federal Government has pledged to amend the Canada Labour Code to allow federally regulated workers to formally request flexible work arrangements from their employers, noting that a statutory right to request flexible work arrangements would align with existing obligations under human rights law (e.g. family status protections around an employee’s childcare obligations).

Following this pledge, the Federal Ministry of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour recently published a discussion paper on the topic, and announced that it will be conducting public consultations about flexible work arrangements, including flexibility around work schedules, hours of work, location or work, leaves, and rest periods. The consultations are focused on the implementation of such arrangements – that is, the Federal Government has been clear that these consultations “are an important step” in eventually legislating the right to request flexible work arrangements.

The Government has also pledged to engage workers, employers, labour and employer organizations, academics, experts, and other organizations “concerned about work-life balance”. At this point, these proposals are in the early stages and many details remain to be seen – for example, the circumstances in which an employer may decline an employee’s request for flexible work arrangements (e.g. for good business reasons), or whether certain employers may be exempt (e.g. small businesses).