As a result of a public consultation, the Alberta government has recently introduced significant changes to employment standards. Some of the key changes recently made to Alberta’s employment standards include, but are not limited to, the following:
- New minimum wage standards. As of October 1m 2017, most employees will be entitled to a general minimum wage of $13.60/hour. As of October 1, 2018, the general minimum wage will go up to $15/hour. Special minimum wage rates apply to certain salespersons and to domestic employees. Please note that changes were also made to weekly minimum wage rates applicable to certain categories of employees.
- Extension and expansion of the compassionate care leave.
- Changes to maternity/parental leaves. These leaves will now be aligned with the new federal Employment Insurance guidelines.
- Changes to rest periods. Most employees will be entitled to a minimum of a 30-minute break (paid or unpaid) within every 5 hours of consecutive employment.
- Introduction of averaging agreements (as opposed to compressed work weeks).
- New express prohibitions for certain deductions from wages, including deductions for faulty work and cash shortages (i.e. dine-and-dash and gas-and-dash scenarios).
- Changes to overtime agreements and overtime banking.
- Changes to general holiday and general holiday pay.
- Changes to vacation pay. Employees will be entitled to be paid 4% or 2 weeks of their total wages as vacation pay until they have been employed for 5 years, after which they will be entitled to receive at least 6%.
- Changes to termination notice and temporary layoffs. Of note, termination pay will be calculated based on the previous 13 weeks of employment when the employee actually worked, not the 13 calendar weeks preceding the termination.
- New standards for youth employment. Subject to certain specific exceptions, youth under the age of 13 will generally not be allowed to work as employees, and youth aged 13-15 will only be allowed to work in jobs on the ‘light work’ list.
We note that the Alberta government has made available a summary of the major changes as well as instructional materials on its website. Employers operating in Alberta are well advised to review all employment standards changes, most of which came into force on January 1, 2018, and to seek advice from employment counsel where appropriate.