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Changes to Alberta Labour Standards: What Your Business Should Know

It has been almost 30 years since Alberta Labour Standards were last reviewed and changed, with the new Cannabis Act effective October 17th, 2018 labour laws and employment standards are sure to be revised in the coming weeks. For now, the below are the changes that became effective in January 2018.

Cannabis Act: How to prepare yourself

First and foremost, employers must update their policies and procedures to include the prohibition of cannabis usage in the workplace. Contracts and company policies typically prohibit substance abuse at work, this now includes cannabis.

It is also the responsibility of the employer to ensure the safety of their employees in the workplace. This means educating employees on cannabis consumption in the workplace, and informing them of changes to the terms of their employment in this realm.

Take into account provisions for disability-based accommodation when an employee brings to the attention of an employer that they require support due to an addiction or medical necessity. This is considered a “disability” under human-rights legislation, and requires special procedures implemented to protect the employer.

Minimum Wage

Effective October 1st, 2018 minimum wage has been increased to $15.00 per hour.

Deductions from Wages

Employers are prohibited from holding back wages due to faulty work or cash shortages.  This is especially important for anyone in the hospitality or retail industry.

If you own a restaurant, contact us for more information on how to properly account for tips and whether or not they should be on T4 slips.

Breaks

For every 5 hours of consecutive work an employer must provide a 30 minute break which can be taken in two 15 minute breaks or as one 30 minute break.  These breaks can be paid, or unpaid, and is up to the discretion of the employer.

Overtime Banking

Employees will now be entitled to bank 1.5 hours for every 1 hour of overtime worked. This standard includes all salaried employees.  However, there are certain exemptions from the overtime rules; if:

  • The employer will give the employee time off work with pay at a rate of 1.5 hours banked for each 1 hour worked as part of a written overtime agreement between the employer and employee.
  • If an employer establishes a work week of less than 44 hours, overtime pay is still payable under the basic 8/44 rule. The exception to this is when a collective agreement has been established in writing that overtime hours are to be counted after working fewer than 8 hours in a work day, or 44 in a work week.
  • If the employees are paid exclusively by incentive pay such as commission, piecework or a similar method, and have no established wage rate the overtime gets established as the minimum wage rate.

Statutory Holidays

The calculation for statutory holidays has changed to 5% of the wages for the prior 4 weeks. A way to calculate this is by first calculating the daily average wage, and then calculate the total owed based on whether the employee worked on the general holiday.

Here’s an easy way:

(Hours worked x Hourly wage x 1.5) + Average daily wage = Amount Owed;

Or (Hours worked x Hourly wage) + Paid day off at rate of average daily wage = Amount Owed

Probationary Period

The probationary period has been changed from three months to 90 days.

Job Protected Leaves

To qualify for job protected leaves you must be employed for a minimum of 90 days.

Maternity / Parental Leave 

16 weeks maternity and 37 weeks parental but may be adjusted as necessary. Job protection for 62 weeks. For Non-birth or adoptive parents parental leave must be completed within 53 weeks following the birth or adoption.

 

Compassionate Care 

This job protected leave will be increased from 8 weeks to 27 weeks.

 

Bereavement Leave 

Up to 3 days unpaid per calendar year.

 

Critical Illness of a child 

Up to 36 weeks of unpaid leave for a seriously ill child.

 

Death or Disappearance of a child 

Up to 52 weeks unpaid for a parent of a child that has disappeared as a result of a crime.

 

Domestic Violence 

Up to 10 days unpaid per calendar year to seek such services as lawyer, move, medical etc.

 

Long-term Injury or illness 

Up to 16 weeks unpaid leave in a calendar year.

 

Personal and family emergency 

Up to 5 unpaid days per year for the employee to care for their own health or the care of a family member.

 

Termination

If the employer intends to terminate the employment of 50 plus employees at a single location within a 4-week period, the rules of group termination have been amended to give greater notice to employees:

50 to 100 employees      8 weeks notice

101 to 300 employees    12 weeks notice

Over 300 employees      16 week notice

The notice must be provided directly to all affected employees as per the timelines above, regardless of how long the individual employees in the group have been working.

Penalties

Failure to comply with Alberta Labour Standards can result in penalties of up to $10,000.00. Ensure you have the appropriate standards in place, for more information you can go directly to the Alberta Labour Standards web-page here.