WestJet (WS, Calgary) has asked the Canadian federal government for an exemption from the new labour code which will take effect from September 1, 2019, the Calgary Herald daily has reported.

The new rules, which were approved in June, will set stricter standards governing workers' overtime, leaves, breaks, advance notices, shift changes, and other rules regarding the organisation of work. WestJet together with its subsidiaries WestJet Encore (WR, Calgary) and Swoop (WO, Hamilton, ON) is seeking exemptions from three provisions, specifically, the right to written notice 24 hours before a shift change, to refuse overtime to carry out family responsibilities, and to a 30-minute break every 5 hours of work.

The airline argued that while it was in the process of updating its internal regulations to better comply with the new law, some of the provisions were "impractical and unworkable" for airline employees such as pilots, flight attendants, and mechanics, particularly during operational disruptions.

The airline plans to apply all three exemptions to pilots, cabin crew, mechanics, and flight operations personnel, and in a more restricted fashion also to employees working at airports.

The National Airlines Council of Canada, a body including WestJet, Air Canada, Air Transat, and Jazz Air, also said it was concerned about the new rules and called upon the government to delay their entry into force until the concerns of the aviation industry are addressed.

The WestJet cabin crew union, meanwhile, expressed an objection to a "blanket exemption" from the new labour laws, despite recognising that the nature of the aviation business makes it difficult to apply all of them.