Alberta workplaces are in for some significant changes once a series of legislative updates to the province’s Employment Standards Code come into effect. Alberta’s Employment Standards Code was last updated in 1988, and the rapidly changing nature of modern workplaces prompted the government to examine the legislation. As a first step, the government requested input from stakeholders. In total, nearly five thousand online survey responses were received from businesses and individuals. Based on these responses, a series of changes to the Code were introduced in a bill that the government states will support family-friendly workplaces, modernize decades-old legislation, and align the minimum employment standards with the rest of Canada.
In June 2017, Bill 17, the Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act, received royal assent. This means that within a few months, businesses will have to comply with new labour laws. The act is divided into two parts: Part 1 amends the Employment Standards Code and Part 2 amends the Labour Relations Code. Most of Part 1 comes into force on January 1, 2018; however, several sections of Part 2 come into force as early as September 1, 2017.
But what changes will affect your current workplace policies and operations?
Some of the changes to existing laws include:
- Amendments to the eligibility and entitlement periods for protected leaves;
- A requirement that employees receive a 30-minute rest break (paid or unpaid) for every five hours of consecutive work;
- Clarification of which deductions are permitted or unlawful from employee wages; and
- Changes to provisions concerning overtime agreements, vacation time and vacation pay, termination, and temporary layoffs.
In addition to revising existing laws, the act also introduces new requirements, such as instituting new protected leaves of absence like the personal and family responsibility leave, domestic violence leave, and critical illness of a child leave. For full details on the complete list of changes, consult the act directly.
Bill 17 will result in significant changes for Alberta employers. As September 2017 approaches, it’s important for employers to have a plan for their workplace to ensure minimal disruptions and stress to their operations. Change can be unnerving, especially when there are legal implications if the legislative updates are not followed. Having a broad understanding of the new legislation and giving consideration to which of those changes affect your workplace is a necessary first step.
Source: Government of Alberta, Employment Standards Code Changes
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