On Thursday December 10, 2015, the Government of Alberta passed
Bill 6, the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers
Act. Bill 6 has generated considerable controversy in the
Province. Bill 6 repeals the exemptions for farm and ranch
workers that are found in a range of legislation. Generally
speaking, Bill 6 affects four aspects of the employment
relationship: general working conditions, the right to organize,
worker safety, and compensation for workplace injuries by repealing
exemptions found in the following legislation/regulations:
Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000 c E-9
Labour Relations Code, RSA 2000, c L-1
Occupational Health and Safety Act, RSA 2000, c
Workers Compensation Regulation (AR 325/2002)
Prior to Bill 6 the Alberta Employment Standards Code
exempted farm and ranch employees, and their employers, from
divisions of the Employment Standards Code that set
minimum hours of work, overtime, general holidays, vacations, and
restrictions on the employment of children and regulation of the
employment of individuals under 18 years old. Bill 6 repeals the
exemption so as to extend the provisions of the Employment
Standards Code to farm workers.
Similarly, the existing Occupational Health and Safety
Act and the Workers Compensation Regulation excluded
farming and ranching operations. Bill 6 repeals these sections and
as a result farming and ranching operations are now subject to OHS
and WCB requirements.
In Alberta the right to unionize is a statutory right granted by
the Labour Relations Code. The Labour Relations
Code, did not apply to employees employed on a farm or ranch
whose employment is directly related to agricultural production or
operation. Bill 6 eliminates the portions of the Labour
Relations Code that expressly excludes farm workers allowing
farm workers to unionize.
As a result of the controversy generated by Bill 6, the
Government of Alberta amended Bill 6 to explicitly allow owners,
family members and neighbours to work on farms and ranches without
being subject to all of the rules and restrictions as other
workers. Specifically, the parts of Bill 6 pertaining to OHS
regulations and workers compensation were amended to explicitly
exclude paid farm and ranch owners and their family members, as
well as friends and neighbours who do not work for wages as defined
by the Employment Standards Code.
The changes implemented by Bill 6 will come into force
gradually. As of January 1, 2016:
WCB coverage will be required on all farms with paid
(non-family member) employees. Farms will have until April 30, 2016
to register with the WCB.
OHS basic safety standards will apply to farms that employ one
or more paid (non-family member) employees
Additional detailed regulations will be developed via a
consultation with the farm and ranch industry and will come into
force as the regulations are approved.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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