Federal Government Publishes Final Regulations Governing Unpaid Student Internships in the Federally Regulated Private Sector

On July 8, 2020, the Federal Government published the final Standards for Work-Integrated Learning Activities Regulations, which clarify when an internship can be unpaid in the federally regulated private sector, and specify applicable labour standards protections.

The Regulations support the Federal Government’s 2017 amendments to the Canada Labour Code which limit unpaid internships in the federally regulated private sector to students registered in secondary, post-secondary and vocational educational institutions, or their equivalent outside Canada undertaking a work-integrated learning placement with an employer to fulfill the requirements of an educational program. All other individuals undertaking placements are treated as employees under the Code and therefore covered by all labour standards protections. Students involved in work-integrated learning are entitled to labour standards protections prescribed by the Regulations.

The Regulations provide that the following labour standards protections apply to students in work-integrated learning activities:

  • a limit of 40 hours/week and eight hours/day, with at least one day of rest per week;
  • right to a modified work schedule;
  • unpaid breaks for every period of five hours of work;
  • unpaid breaks for medical reasons or nursing;
  • 96 hours advance notice of a schedule;
  • 24 hours advance notice of a shift change or addition of a shift;
  • eight-hour rest period between shifts;
  • nine general holidays within a calendar year;
  • maternity-related reassignment;
  • protected leaves (i.e. personal leave, leave for victims of family violence, leave for traditional Aboriginal practices, bereavement leave, medical leave and leave for work-related illness and injury); and
  • protections against genetic discrimination and prohibited reprisals.

The newly published Regulations also outline:

  • the educational institutions at which the student can be fulfilling the requirements of an educational program through an internship;
  • the documentation required to support a student placement that can be unpaid; and
  • related administrative requirements.

The Regulations also include protections against sexual harassment which will remain in place until the Federal Government’s improved framework for the prevention of harassment and violence (Bill C-65: An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1) comes into force to ensure that there is no gap in coverage for students in the interim.

The Regulations and 2017 legislative amendments are set to come into force on September 1, 2020.

Our labour and employment team can assist employers with any questions related to these changes or amending policies to ensure they are in compliance.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.