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What You Need to Know about the Employment Standard Changes in Alberta

Posted by Mai Dowdie

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Mar 5, 2018 9:00:00 AM

What_You_Need_to_Know_about_the_Employment_Standard_Changes_in_Alberta.jpgAs we all know, compliance errors can cause major trouble, both monetarily and legally for staffing firms. As of November 2017, Bill 148 was passed in Ontario, bringing with it amendments to several significant areas, including minimum wages, personal emergency leave, and statutory holiday pay. Yet, Ontario isn’t the only province that needs to worry about new amendments to business legislation.

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Alberta is another province seeing major changes to employment standards put into effect since January 1st, 2018. If you’re a staffing firm owner in Alberta or are curious what changes the new Employment Standards Code have brought to the province, keep reading.

Wages and Overtime

It was recently announced that Alberta plans to increase its minimum wage to $15/hour on October 1st of this year. The province states the goal is to give employees a “living wage” to meet basic household needs. Employers are also no longer allowed to pay employees with disabilities less than the minimum wage.

Regarding amendments to deductions, employers can now only take deductions from their employees’ earnings if they fall under the following criteria:

  • Albertan law requires it
  • Deductions are authorized by a collective agreement
  • Deductions are authorized in writing by an employee

Deductions for company pension plans, dental plans, social funds, and registered retirement savings plans must be agreed to by the employee on commencement of working for the employer.

As for overtime, amendments include: allowing time to be banked for six months instead of the previous employment standard of three and calculating banked overtime at 1.5x for all hours worked.

Unpaid Leave of Absence

Many amendments have been made for unpaid leaves of absence, as Alberta’s employment standards have stood untouched for decades. Some highlights of new leave of absence legislation include:

Employees are eligible for current and new job-protected unpaid leaves of absence after 90 days, down from the previous one year. This legislation excludes reservists leave, however.

There are several newly created leaves of absence, including:

  • Long-Term Illness and Injury Leave (up to 16 weeks)
  • Personal and Family Responsibility Leave (up to 5 days)
  • Bereavement Leave (up to 3 days)
  • Critical Illness of an Adult Family Member Leave (up to 16 weeks)
  • Critical Illness of a Child Leave (up to 36 weeks)
  • Death or Disappearance of a Child Leave (up to 52 weeks)

Several changes have also been made to the existing Compassionate Care Leave (extended to 27 weeks) and Maternity/Parental Leave (extended from 15 to 16 weeks and from 37 to 62 weeks, respectively). Non-primary caregivers are now included in the Compassionate Care category, with notice periods from employees shortened. For the full details of changes made to these existing categories, you can review Alberta’s new guide.

Termination and Holidays/Vacation

As you might have guessed, many changes have been made to termination and holiday pay as well. For termination, changes include:

  • Rules of termination or layoffs, as well as recall notices for temporary layoffs, must be clarified in writing and addressed to the employees concerned.
  • Employers are prohibited from forcing employees to use entitlements (i.e., vacation, overtime) during the termination notice period, unless both parties agree.
  • Group terminations are increased and scaled (full details of the legislation are available on Alberta’s government site).
  • The possibility of indefinite layoffs will be eliminated, with layoffs being limited to 60 days within a 120-day period. Layoffs can be extended if wages and/or benefits are paid and employees are in agreement with the employer.
  • Termination pay will now be calculated based on the employee’s previous 13 weeks of employment when the employee actually worked.

Holiday and vacation requirements no longer include having worked 30 days in the 12 months prior to vacation. There’s also no longer a distinction between regular and non-regular work days.

General holiday pay is now calculated at five percent of wages, general holiday pay, and vacation pay earned four weeks immediately preceding the holiday. Lastly, employees must receive four percent of their total wages as vacation pay and receive at least six percent after they’ve been employed for five years.

Are you struggling with these new changes to Alberta’s employment standards? It’s understandable. Partnering with a back office solutions provider can help you stay on top of business legislation changes and compete with the big firms

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Topics: The Staffing Industry

Mai Dowdie

Mai Dowdie, an expert in customer service, is the team lead of the member relations department at The Staffing Edge. Prior to working at The Staffing Edge, Mai worked as a recruiting consultant for VPI Inc, Kelly Services, and Elite Plus Temporaries. With 15 years of experience working in the staffing industry, Mai brings a wealth of knowledge to her role. Each day, she provides the resources and tools to help our members grow and become successful partners, through training, problem solving, and technical support. Mai enjoys a good night out singing karaoke, art, and home improvement projects.
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