New Canada Labour Code Changes to Internship Rules

Changes to the Canada Labour Code, R.S.C., 1985 took effect on September 1, 2020 and will be passed through the Standards for Work-Integrated Learning Activities Regulations. These regulations have been passed in order to offer additional protections for interns and student interns working for federally regulated industries or workplaces.

An intern does not have to be part of a formal education program. An intern may be a recent graduate, an individual pursuing a mid-career change or an individual returning to the workplace following an absence. Interns are entitled to the full labour standards protections under Part III of the Canada Labour Code. An intern is also entitled to be paid at least minimum wage.

Student interns, defined by students who are completing an internship to fulfill the requirements of a formal educational program, are unpaid.  However, other labour standards protections have now been extended to student interns as of September 1, 2020. In particular,

  • Standard hours of work and breaks: Student interns are now covered under the standard hours of work provision in the Code, including a variety of rights such as, standard hours of work, general holidays in a week, rest periods, maximum hours of work, scheduling hours of work, notice of schedule, and the right to refuse work that they do not have at least 96 hours of notice for.  
  • Breaks for Medical Reasons or Nursing: Student interns now have the ability to enforce rights to have breaks for medical reasons; they will still be required to provide a medical certificate by a health care practitioner. In addition, they will also be able to take unpaid nursing breaks where necessary in order to nurse or express breast milk.
  • Holidays: Student interns are eligible for general holidays as prescribed by the This allows them to take statutory holidays, and also will allow them to have the following day off where a statutory holiday falls on a weekend. Employers will still be able to substitute statutory holidays for other days off in respect to student interns
  • Protected Leaves of absence and maternity-related reassignment: If a student intern is pregnant or nursing, a student intern is entitled to request a modification to duties upon delivery of a medical certificate stating that the current duties caused a risk to the student intern or child. An employer must modify the position or provide a written explanation as to why a modification is not reasonably practicable. If modification of the duties is not possible, a student intern may not be entitled to a leave of absence. Other leaves have also been extended to students, including personal leave, bereavement leave and medical leave, along with corresponding prohibitions against any reprisal for exercising rights under Part III of the Code.
  • Work-Related Illness and Injury and Sexual Harassment: Student interns are protected with respect to injuries they experience at work, reassignment to a different position still applies where the student returns and is unable to perform the work they used to perform before their absence. Many of the Code provisions are related to reprisals and sexual harassment.
  • Record Keeping Requirements: There will also be new record keeping requirements for employers after engaging a student intern. Employers will need to keep the information for a period of at least 36 months after the student internship ends. The record keeping requirements are quite comprehensive and should be viewed in advance of hiring.

A summary of the changes can be found at the following link: