The month of October 2015 brings two key milestones that all
Alberta employers should be aware of. First, on October 1, 2015,
the minimum wage in Alberta will increase. Second, on October 19,
2015, the federal election will take place. Employers have
important obligations to their employees on Election Day to provide
time to vote.
The purpose of this Workwise email update is to provide
information to employers regarding these upcoming events, to ensure
employers are well-poised to respond.
Increase to Minimum Wage
In Alberta, all employers are required to ensure that their
employees receive at least the minimum wage rates set out in the
Employment Standards Regulation.
Currently, the basic minimum wage in Alberta is $10.20 per hour.
On October 1, 2015, the basic minimum wage will increase by $1.00
per hour to $11.20 per hour. For certain specific types of
employees, the minimum wage will increase as follows:
For employees who serve liquor: increase to $10.70 per hour (up
from the current $9.20 per hour);
For individuals employed in direct selling, certain
salespersons, land agents, and other employees listed in the
Regulation: increase to $446 per week (up from the current
$406 per week);
For individuals engaged in domestic employment (such as
nannies): increase to $2,127 per month (up from the current $1,937
As always, employees who are paid either entirely or in part by
commission must receive commission payments in an amount that is at
least equal to the minimum wage. These changes apply to all
provincially regulated employers, as well as to all employees who
work for federally regulated employers, if they are "usually
employed" in Alberta.
These changes are the first stage in the implementation of a
2015 provincial election promise made by the Alberta New Democratic
Party to increase minimum wage rates to $15.00 per hour by 2018. As
such, employers should expect to continue to see increases to
minimum wage rates in the months and years to come.
Federal Election: Guide for Employers
The upcoming federal election is scheduled to take place on
October 19, 2015. All employers should be aware that the
Canadian Elections Act imposes certain obligations on
employers to ensure that their employees have an opportunity to get
out and vote on Election Day.
In particular, employers must ensure that they provide all
employees who are eligible to vote with three consecutive
hours off work while polls are open for the purpose of
casting a ballot. All Canadian citizens who are over the age of 18
are eligible to vote. Polls in Alberta will be open for 12 hours,
from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
In addition, this time off must be without loss of
However, employers are entitled to choose when during the day to
provide the three consecutive hours for voting. This helps to
ensure that the employer's operations are inconvenienced to the
least extent possible.
For example, if an employee normally works from 9:00 a.m. to
6:00 p.m., the employer could allow the employee to arrive late (at
10:30 a.m.) or leave early (at 4:30 p.m.), or leave for three hours
during the day at some point.
If an employer does not comply with these requirements, the
penalties can be severe. Non-complying employers may face fines of
up to $2,000 or imprisonment. If an employer uses intimidation,
undue influence, or any other means to interfere with an
employee's right to take time off to cast a ballot, the
potential fines increase to $50,000.
There are some exceptions to these rules. In particular, the
rules may not apply for employees who work in the transportation
industry, if the following conditions are met:
the employer is a company that transports goods or passengers
by land, air or water;
the employee is employed outside his/her polling division;
the employee is employed in the operation of a means of
the time off cannot be provided without interfering with the
Further, employers who are subject to collective agreements
should consult the precise terms of the agreement, as many speak to
further obligations on Election Day (in addition to those set out
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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