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An Employer's Guide to 2023 Changes to Federal Employment Standards 

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Federal labor laws are the framework for countries to maintain an active, engaged, and safe workforce. 

Without standardized national policy safeguarding the rights of an employer and their employees, the process of building a stable enterprise with a reliable, professional, and properly compensated team would be a challenging task.  

Luckily, federal laws in both the US and Canada have kept both employers and their workers in a state of balance for decades. 

However, it is important to keep in mind that like any set of regulations, federal employment laws are subject to change, as the landscape of commerce is ever-shifting.

In this article, we’ll look at both the large-scale and small-scale changes that have occurred in the world of federal employment law in both Canada and the US in 2023. 

What Are Federal Employment Standards? 

Before we delve into the details, let’s do a brief rundown on the specific building blocks that make up the modern landscape of federal law. 

These standards essentially envelop numerous forms of labor regulations that surround employment standards. 

These rights are dictated by the federal government of the corresponding country and set employment standards that potential employers must abide by when managing staff. 

Some of the most common forms of employment standards can be matters surrounding, 

  • Federal Minimum Wage
  • Working Hours
  • Leave and Holidays
  • Termination and Notice
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Discrimination and Harassment
  • Employment Contracts
  • Payroll 
  • Overtime Pay
  • Benefits
  • Unions and Collective Bargaining

Federal employment standards guarantee a fair and stable relationship between employees and their employers. So, it’s crucial that both parties be aware of both the freedoms and limitations that any federal government sets. 

However, even though many employment standards are set on a federal level, there are regional regulations as well. These are set on a state level if you’re in the US and on a provincial level if you reside in Canada. 

Changes to Canadian Federal Employment Standards 

Employment standards set by the government of Canada fall under the federal doctrine of the Canada Labour Code — and as previously mentioned — legislation like this covers numerous aspects of employer and employee rights. 

Recently, some changes have been implemented by the Government of Canada. The majority of them directly impact employment standards and compliance. 

If you are looking to hire Canadian workers either at home or abroad, keeping track of changing labor laws is crucial. Not only does it set the example that your organization is attentive to the needs of your workers, but also, ensures that you are up to date on policies that impact your business operations. 

As of 2023, several adjustments have been made to federal employment standards in Canada. 

Reasonable Reimbursement 

For employers, one major policy to keep in mind when operating with Canadian workers is the new reimbursement standard for ‘reasonable’ work expenses. 

This new rule operates under the standards and regulation policies set by the Government of Canada. Its primary function is to operate as a set of guidelines for an employer who is reviewing and considering work-related expenses incurred by an employee. 

The Canadian government does not list concrete examples of eligible claims, as each presented case will be different depending on the employee and the employer. Instead, what is provided is a list of factors an employer should take into consideration when reviewing a reimbursement claim. 

If an employee demands reimbursement that clashes with Canadian regulation standards, their initial employee contract, or any other formal agreements, they are not eligible. 

These new standards also dictate that if the reimbursement is agreed upon, the employer has 30 days to meet them. 

Ministry of Labour Materials

New federal standards in Canada also dictate new duties for employers, and ensure that materials from the Ministry of Labour are provided to workers across Canada under any conditions.

These materials must be provided by the employer within 30 days of the initial hiring date of an employee, after which, any updated policy relating to ministry affairs must be supplied to employees within the 30-day time frame. 

These materials include any upddates to policy under the umbrella of ministrty sanctions, as well as core policies that impact that type of position that the employee has been brought on for. 

This guarantees that employees are educated on their labor rights and that the employer is kept up to date on any changing policy. 

Lastly, suppose an employee is terminated on behalf of an employer. In that case, the employer must provide them with the most up-to-date documentation surrounding the termination process — as dictated by the Canadian Ministry of Labour. 

Legal Requirement to Supply Menstrual Products

As of the publication of this article, this new mandate is not in effect. 

By December 2023, employers in Canada — under new federal regulations — will have to provide a clean and safe supply of menstrual products wherever applicable. 

This regulation would only fall to federally regulated employers, some of which include, 

  • Air Transportation
  • Banks and Authorized Foreign Banks
  • First Nations Band Councils and Indigenous Self Governments 
  • Transportation and Shipping
  • Postal and Courier Services
  • Radio and Television Broadcasting
  • Telecommunications

Employer/Employee Statements 

Additional new adjustments to federal employment standards in Canada dictate that employers must now provide employees with concrete written statements about the specifics of their employment contracts — such as the initial terms and conditions of the position that was originally provided. 

Much like the reimbursement and ministry materials policies, employers have a 30-day window to provide employees with information regarding the terms and conditions of their position starting from the initial hiring date. 


Under these new federal laws, employers that do not comply with any of the above-mentioned policies are subject to penalties.

These penalties fall under the jurisdiction of the Canadian branch of Administrative Monetary Penalties, often in the form of a fine. 

Changes to Federal Employment Standards in the US. 

Federal employment standards in the U.S. are administered by the US Department of Labor

This government body operates in a similar fashion to the administering powers behind Canada’s Labour Code and facilitates worker rights and employer standards across the US.

As previously mentioned, certain regulations may vary based on regional input, such as state law. In this section, we will be covering the newly implemented federal changes and see how these mandates will impact organizations looking to hire within the US

Heavy Hitters in US Employment Policy 

To give ourselves a base to understand what federal employment policy in the US looks like, we’ll first need to understand the inner workings of some of the more crucial regulations that operate on a federal level and provide the bedrock for worker rights in America. 

This base knowledge will give you a platform to further understand changes occurring in the States. It will also provide you with the kind of acumen that a responsible employer should bolster when looking to hire US-based individuals.

The Department of Labor 

The United States Department of Labor is the primary government agency that enforces labor regulations and ensures that both employer and employee rights are managed in tandem with government regulations. 

The federal body ensures that the American workforce maintains a status quo that is built with a focus on the health and well-being of its workers. 

The Department of Labor (DOL) facilitates policies that encompass, 

  • Labor Standards and Enforcement
  • Occupational Safety and Health
  • Job Training and Workforce Development
  • Employee Benefits and Rights
  • Veterans' Employment and Training
  • Data and Research
  • Compliance Assistance
  • Non-discrimination, including the Disabilities Act 
  • Federal Contract Compliance

Occupational Health and Safety Administration

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the federal agency that is responsible for setting and enforcing workplace safety and health standards. 

This administrative government body guarantees workplace safety by setting regulations in the form of federal policy, as well as conducting inspections of workplaces to ensure they are up to code. 

Operations of the OSHA include, 

  • Enforcement:
  • Training and Education
  • Whistleblower Protection
  • Recordkeeping
  • Consultation Services
  • Emergency Response
  • Standards Advisory Committees

National Labor Relations Act/National Labor Relations Board

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is a piece of American legislation that protects the rights of workers who are looking to engage in collective bargaining. It is a crucial piece of federal policy that protects the rights of workers and functions as the foundation for labor relations standards held across the US.

This act covers,

  • The Protection of Employee Rights
  • The Protection of Unfair Labor Practices
  • Collective Bargaining
  • Labor Strikes and Lockouts
  • Secondary Boycotts and Jurisdictional Strikes
  • Right-to-Work States
  • The Protection of Supervisor Rights
  • Enforcement and Remedies

Additionally, the NLRA created the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), an independent federal agency tasked with enforcing the provisions of the act.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is one of the more streamlined pieces of legislation that U.S.-based commerce operates around, as it manages matters concerning minimum wage, general employment standards, and overtime. 

A few other key aspects that fall under the FLSA are, 

  • Employer Recordkeeping 
  • Hours Worked and Record-Keeping 
  • Protections for Employed Minors 

As of 2022, the US Department of Labor put forth a motion to discern who falls under the category of ‘employee’ versus ‘independent contractor’ under the FLSA. 

As of the publication of this article, no decision has been reached. However, this is crucial data any employer looking to hire within the US should keep an eye out for.  

Civil Rights Act

As dictated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTA), one of the most important pieces of worker legislation in the US is the Civil Rights Act, which is facilitated by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EOEC).

This piece of legislation essentially guarantees that no employer can discriminate against an employee based on their,

  • Race
  • Religion 
  • Gender Identity 
  • National Origin 
  • Disabilities 
  • Age 

As of the publication of this article, no major changes have been made to this act or the EOEC.

Uniformed Services Employment

The Uniformed Services Employment and Redeployment Rights Act (USERRA), is a focused form of policy that protects the employment standards of both active uniformed service members and veterans as they engage in civilian employment. 

While there have been no updates to this form of employment policy in 2023, new changes were implemented last year on behalf of the Executive Branch of the President, and extended the same protections under the USERRA to federal emergency responders. 

Equal Pay Act 

The Equal Pay Act (EPA) is a crucial piece of legislation that amends all federal policies to ensure that there is no wage discrimination based on the gender identity of an employee. 

The Paycheck Fairness Act was introduced by US lawmakers in 2023, and is currently holding employers to a higher standard. Under this legislation, employers must conduct research to ensure there are no wage differences amongst workers based on their gender identity. 

Health Acts

2023 has proven to be a dynamic year for federal employment policy across the US — and when it comes to the health of American workers — new policies are always being drafted to protect the well-being of workers across the country. 

This year saw the emergence of the Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act, a health act that holds federal health care programs accountable for adjusting benefit programs based on the quality of life of the recipient.

Employee Retirement Income Security Act

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) is a piece of federal legislation that holds employers to a higher standard when it comes to providing retirement benefits to its workers. Changes in Minimum Wage Regulation

As of 2023, the employment standards in the US surrounding minimum wage began to undergo changes in relation to the increase in wage. 

Under these new regulations, the minimum wage for federal contractors (government-sanctioned employees) will be adjusted on an annual basis. Additionally, the announcement of this new wage will occur three months prior to its implementation in each corresponding year. 

Any federal contractors who fall into a category where tips are earned as part of their payment system will receive the adjusted wage at a margin of 15% less the marked wage, to balance out income gained by tips. 

Employer Transparency 

Additional changes made to federal policy in the US this year correlate to the number of employees an employer maintains on the payroll. 

If an organization exceeds 15 or more employees, the employer in question must then make the payscale visible on any job postings scouting for potential new hires. Alongside these new regulations, if the employer in question is using a recruiting service, this service must abide by the same rules and disclose the pay scale as well.

Cannabis Use Regulation 

If an employer takes any action against an employee on the suspicion of cannabis use, the managing employer must be able to provide tangible proof that the employee in question was intoxicated before any action is taken.

Additionally, any proof provided must show the employee in question was intoxicated while operating in the workplace. 

End of ID and Interview Flexibility

During the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses in the US that were converting to a remote work model were faced will a variety of challenges when it came to hiring and managing new employees. As a result, the review and processing of documentation and employee ID were, like many practices during the pandemic, altered into a virtual format. 

As of July 2023, the Department of Homeland Security has announced that any new hires operating within the US must now have their IDs, hiring information, and employment eligibility processed in person by the potential employer.

For those who are being hired on a remote basis or are working off-site, the employer in question will choose an authorized party to conduct the physical interview as well as a review of the specified documents wherever the potential hire is located. 

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act 

Also as of this year, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission has rolled out the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA).

Under this new form of legislation, organizations that bolster 15 or more employees must accommodate workers who have had their ability to function in the workplace limited as a result of their pregnancy. 

These are not limited to just physical conditions but also apply to the mental strain that comes with engaging in one’s job while pregnant. Additionally, employers must actively check in with the pregnant employee, review the degree of the accommodations that have been offered, and discuss what other accommodations can be made through the course of the pregnancy. 

“Reasonable Accommodation” will be established by both the employer and the employee during this process, both during the pregnancy and for a period after. 

Managing Differences in Federal Employment Standards 

As a potential employer, you may be wondering how to navigate the differences in the ever-changing nature of employment standards in the US and Canada. Monitoring and implementing federal employment standards is a must for making sure your workplace, whether on-site or remote, operates by the most up-to-date legal standards. 

While employers take on much of the legal burden, workers should also be aware of these rights and regulations.  A mutual knowledge of employment standards between the employer and employee guarantees that both parties will do everything in their power to abide by federal policy. Stay in the Know with Borderless

Borderless can help you and your organization manage changes in federal employment policy., Our team has extensive knowledge of working alongside workers and businesses in both Canada and the US. Across a wide variety of industries, Borderless has made compliance a number one priority amongst its clients on a global scale. 

Whether you have questions concerning work placements and visas or have inquiries on how to terminate employee contacts in accordance with the most current federal policies — our team is here to help you navigate global commerce.  Hiring and managing a team is a challenging endeavor on its own, and managing both your rights as an employer and the rights of your workers is no easy task. 

Contact us today and we can help you build a workforce that knows you care about its interests, while we help you look after yours.


Borderless does not provide legal services or legal advice to anyone. This includes customers, contractors, employees, partners, and the general public. We are not lawyers or paralegals. Please read our full disclaimer here.

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