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Current Alberta Employment Standards rules

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The Alberta government’s “The Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplace ” Act are in effect for temporary layoffs, group terminations, and variances and exemptions. All other Employment Standards changes take effect November 1.

Temporary layoff – Effective August 15, 2020

In Alberta, the maximum duration for temporary layoffs depends on the reason for the layoff, and when the layoff occurred. Many changes were introduced in 2020 to help with layoffs related to COVID-19.

  • Temporary layoff period extended to 90 days within a 120-day period (COVID-19 related layoffs up to 180 days are still in place) 
  • The employer must give the employee notice of temporary layoff. To be valid, the notice must:

                o    be in writing
                o    state that it’s a temporary layoff notice and its effective date
                o    include sections 62-64 of the Code (page 58)

  • Employers will not need to give group termination notice to employees or unions. 

Variances and exemptions:

More flexible rules will make it easier and quicker for employers to get approval for, and renew a variance or exemption.

Changes coming – November 1, 2020

General holiday pay calculation: 

Employers will no longer include vacation pay and general holiday pay in the average daily wage calculation. The new average daily wage will be the employees’ total wages averaged over number of days they worked in the: 

  • Four weeks immediately before the general holiday, or 
  • Four weeks ending on the last day of the pay period that occurred just before the general holiday. 

An employer can choose which calculation best suits their payroll cycle.

Averaging agreements:

It will be easier to set up agreements going forward.

  1. Employers can start or change an hours of work averaging arrangement by giving employees two weeks’ notice, without getting employees’ consent.
  2. Arrangements can have an averaging period of up to 52 weeks, up from the current 12 weeks.
  3. Arrangements will no longer need to have an end date. 
  4. More flexibility to change shifts however, employees must receive 8 hours of rest between shifts. 
  5. There is more flexibility for employers to determine how and if daily overtime applies. Overtime is calculated on the greater of weekly or daily overtime hours when daily overtime is included. Averaging period overtime must be paid to the employee no later than 10 days after the pay period that the averaging period ends, which may be as long as 52 weeks, determined by the employers.

Rules for payment of final pay upon termination:

Changes would require employers to pay an employee within one of the following periods that the employer chooses: 

  • Ten consecutive days after the end of the pay period in which termination occurred, or
  • 31 consecutive days after the last day of employment

Youth Employment:

Employers can more easily hire 13 and 14-year old’s for certain types of jobs because they will not need to get a permit.

  • Types of jobs include light janitorial work in offices, coaching and tutoring. It also includes some jobs in the food services industry if the youth is working with someone 18 or older.

Payroll changes:

Employers can correct payroll errors or recover vacation pay paid in advance more quickly because they no longer need to get an employee’s written authorization to deduct an amount that was overpaid on a paycheck. Employers are still required to notify employees the overpayments will be deducted from their paychecks.

Administrative penalties:

Employers will still be penalized for breaking rules, but the penalty amount could be decreased on a case by case basis. Employers will also have up to 30 days to pay administrative penalties. The Director can reduce amounts, and the limitation for progressive penalties is reduced to two years.

Contact our Business Counselors with any outstanding questions. 

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August 15, 2019

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