Last October 29th, an Act to amend the Act respecting labour standards principally with regard to reservists came into force[1].

First, the bill is intended to specify the cohabitation conditions required to be considered a "spouse". Thus, persons bound by marriage or a civil union will continue to be considered spouses, notwithstanding that one of them may be temporarily absent. The same applies if one of the two is required to reside elsewhere permanently due to a health condition or incarceration, unless the employee is cohabiting with a different spouse. The definition of "spouse" is relevant for the granting of days off and leave for family or parenting reasons[2].

In addition, the bill requires an employee who is taking paternity leave to give his employer at least three weeks’ written notice.

The most important aspect of this bill is that it entitles an employee who is a Canadian Forces reservist to take leave without pay to participate in annual training exercises or for active duty in Canada or abroad.

Accordingly, an employee with 12 months of continuous service may take leave for up to 18 months to take part in Canadian Forces operations abroad. An employee can also take leave to take part in Canadian Forces operations in Canada, such as in the case of major disaster relief or an emergency declared by the government. The employee can also take leave for up to 15 days for annual training exercises. The two latter cases are not subject to a minimum period of continuous service.

To be eligible for such leave, the employee must give his employer written notice at least four weeks in advance of the leave, stating the reason for the leave and how long it will last. When he comes back, the employee must be reinstated in his usual position with the same benefits.