July 9, 2019
Authors: Dylan Snowdon and Shale Anderson
Alberta’s 2019 Changes to Employment Legislation
Alberta introduced Bill 2 on May 27th, 2019, repealing much of the 2017 overhaul of the Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code. Changes amending the Employment Standards Code will come into force on September 1st, 2019. Changes amending the Employment Standards Regulation relating to “youth minimum wage” came into force June 26th, 2019.
These are the key changes to the Employment Standards Code:
Overtime agreements under Alberta’s current legislation permit employers to provide employees time off with pay rather than overtime pay. Currently, employers must issue time off with pay at 1.5 times the hours worked. After September 1, 2019, employers can provide one hour of banked time for each overtime hour worked under an Overtime Agreement.
A qualification for holiday pay is now returned, requiring an employee to have worked for the employer for at least 30 days of the previous 12 months preceding the date of the holiday. Other holiday pay restrictions related to absences and irregular schedules have also been rolled back to those in place before the 2017 changes.
Amendments relating to changes to the Employment Standards Code can be viewed here.
Minimum wage reductions have been introduced for people under the age of 18 who are enrolled in an educational institution to $13.00 per hour. The $13.00 per hour wage applies to the employee’s first 28 hours of work performed while enrolled in an educational institution (during the school year). After 28 hours of work, the employee is to be paid the regular minimum wage.
However, the 28 hour cap does not apply during breaks such as winter/spring or summer, meaning employers are eligible to pay their youth workers the “youth minimum wage” for the entire week(s) during all winter/spring or summer breaks when the youth employees are not enrolled.
Amendments relating to the “youth minimum wage” can be viewed here.
Bill 2 also represents a return to the “secret ballot” certification process for unions, requiring prospective unions to demonstrate at least 40% of personnel within the potential bargaining unit support certification in order to trigger a certification vote.
This amendment marks a return to the previous two-step certification process. Current legislation allows unions to certify using a one step process, simply by showing that 65% of employees within the bargaining unit support certification.
The time period for a potential bargaining unit to demonstrate proof of support has also been reduced from six months to 90 days, and signed union cards are valid for 90 days, down from 6 months, which is anticipated to make it more difficult for unions to successfully certify.
Because many of the changes are a reversion to former minimum standards, Alberta employers can, in many cases, keep current policies as they exceed the new reduced minimum standards, or can re-implement old policies. To ensure your new or existing policies meet the changing requirements, or if you need new policies drafted, please contact any of our Employment Law Team.