Canada: Bill 17 – The Alberta Government's Proposed Changes To The Employment Standards Code And The Labour Relations Code

Last Updated: June 9 2017
Article by Wendy Zhu and Kyle Isherwood

On May 24, 2017, the Alberta Government introduced Bill 17—the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act. Bill 17 proposes substantive changes to both the Alberta Employment Standards Code (ESC) and Labour Relations Code (LRC).

When Bill 17 is passed:

  • Most revisions to the ESC would come into force on January 1, 2018. Revisions related to youth employment in the ESC would come into force upon proclamation.
  • Most revisions to the LRC would come into force upon proclamation.
  • Certain provisions of the LRC related to certification and revocation applications, as well as review of award procedures, would come into force on September 1, 2017.
  • Certain provisions related to farm employees in the LRC would come into force on January 1, 2018.

A summary of significant proposed changes is provided below.


Unpaid, Job-Protected Leaves

Employees will be eligible for all unpaid, job-protected leaves after 90 days rather than 1 year.

Compassionate Care Leave

  • Compassionate care leave would be extended to 27 weeks, from the current 8 weeks.
  • An employee would no longer be required to be the primary care giver to seek compassionate care leave.
  • Notice to return to work would be decreased from 2 weeks to 48 hours.

Maternity/Parental Leave

  • Maternity leave would be extended from 15 weeks to 16 weeks.
  • Parental leave would remain at 37 weeks.1

New Leaves of Absences

  • Personal and family responsibility leave: up to 5 days per year.
  • Long-term injury and illness leave: a maximum of 16 weeks in a calendar year and requires a medical certificate.
  • Bereavement leave: up to 3 days for immediate family members.
  • Domestic violence leave: up to 10 days in a calendar year.
  • Citizenship ceremony leave: half a day to attend the citizenship ceremony.
  • Critical illness of a child leave: up to 36 weeks.
  • Death or disappearance of a child leave: up to 52 weeks when a child has disappeared likely as a result of a crime, or up to 104 weeks when a child has died likely as a result of a crime.

Before returning to work after long-term injury and illness leave, critical illness of a child leave, or death or disappearance of a child leave, employees would have to provide 48 hours' notice.

Rest Periods

  • If an employer and employee agree, the 30 minute rest period required for every 5 consecutive hours of work would be able to be taken in two 15 minute periods.

Compressed Work Week Arrangements

  • Compressed work weeks would be replaced with "averaging agreements".
  • Averaging agreements would need to be in writing, between an employer and an employee or group of employees where a majority agrees, and would need to satisfy the criteria outlined in Bill 17.
  • Averaging agreements would allow averaging of an employee's hours over 1 to 12 weeks.
  • Existing compressed work week arrangements would remain valid until the termination of the compressed work week arrangements, or January 1, 2019, whichever is earlier. Compressed work week arrangements that are part of a collective agreement would remain valid until the next collective agreement.

Deductions from Earnings

  • Bill 17 would allow ESC Regulations to clarify when an employer may or may not deduct money from the earnings of an employee. Among other things, Bill 17 would specifically prohibit employers from deducting from earnings amounts for failing to collect cash from a customer.


  • Overtime hours would be able to be banked for 6 months, rather than 3 months.
  • Time-off instead of overtime pay would be at 1.5 hours for each hour of overtime, not hour-for-hour.

Vacation and General Holiday Pay

  • Employees would be able to take vacation in half-day increments—no more 1 day minimum.
  • All employees would generally be entitled to general holiday pay.
  • The distinction between a regular work day and a non-regular work day would be removed.
  • If, upon termination, an employee has not taken a holiday to which he or she is entitled to pursuant to the ESC, Bill 17 would clarify how to determine general holiday pay owed to the employee.
  • The calculation of general holiday pay would change to be 5% of an employee's wages, vacation pay and general holiday pay over the previous 4 weeks.

Terminations and Temporary Layoffs

  • Employers would be prohibited from requiring employees to use banked overtime during the termination notice period, unless the employee agrees in writing.
  • Employers would be prohibited from requiring employees to use annual vacation during the termination notice period unless, before the termination notice, the employer had given notice to the employee to use the annual vacation in accordance with the ESC.
  • Timelines for providing group termination notices to employees, unions, and the Minister would be increased as follows:

    • 50 to 99 employees: 8 weeks;
    • 100 to 299 employees: 12 weeks; and
    • 300 employees or more: 16 weeks.
  • For temporary layoffs, employers would have to provide the employee with 1-2 weeks' written layoff notice (depending on the employee's length of service), unless there are unforeseeable circumstances.
  • Temporary layoffs exceeding 60 days in a 120-day period would be deemed a termination unless the employee agrees that the employer can continue to pay wages or make payments for the employee in accordance with a pension or employee insurance plan or similar plan.2

Youth Employment

  • Children 12 years old or younger would only be able to be employed in an "artistic endeavour"3 and only if the Director issues a permit authorizing it.
  • Youth between 13 and 15 years old would only be able to be employed in: (a) an artistic endeavour; (b) "light work" 4; or (c) any other work authorized under a permit, except "hazardous work" under occupational health and safety legislation.
  • Youth who are 16 and 17 years old would be able to be employed in any type of work, with restrictions to hazardous work under occupational health and safety legislation. Youth who are 16 and 17 years old would only be able to perform hazardous work if the Director issues a permit authorizing it and there is proper training and supervision.

Persons with Disabilities

  • The Director would no longer be able to issue permits authorizing employers to pay an employee who has a disability less than minimum wage.

Administration and Enforcement

  • An employment standards officer would be able to conduct an inspection, investigation, or inquiry to determine compliance with the ESC or an authorizing or enforcement instrument (such as a permit or order), whether or not the officer has received a complaint.
  • An officer would be able to require employers to conduct compliance audits on themselves.
  • An appeal body would be established to address appeals from employment officer decisions.5
  • An administrative penalty system would be implemented for employers who are found to have breached the ESC.
  • Where necessary, the Director would be able to collect from employers' joint bank accounts.
  • The limitation period for prosecution of an offence under the ESC would increase from 1 year to 2 years.
  • Subject to the Regulations, the Director must publish any permits issued under the ESC and the Regulations, any exemptions or variances issued, and the particulars of enforcement actions taken against employers.

Farm and Ranch Exemptions

  • Family members in farming and ranching are exempt from ESC provisions.
  • Non-family member employees employed in a farming or ranching operation are exempt from provisions related to hours of work, rest periods and overtime.

To view the full article please click here.


1 The Alberta Government has indicated this amount may be revised at a future date to align with proposed changes to federal Employment Insurance benefits (

2 It would also not be deemed a termination if there is a collective agreement containing recall rights following a layoff.

3 Artistic endeavour would be defined in the Regulations.

4 The Minister would publish what is considered light work on the department website.

5 The Alberta Government has indicated on their website that they contemplate that the appeal body would be the Labour Relations Board in the future.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.