Canada: Albertas New Employer-Unfriendly Workplaces Act

Now that Alberta's new employment and labour law has been passed, Gowling WLG's Calgary Office provides a detailed summary of the changes and their implications.

Bill 17: The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act, was introduced in the Alberta Legislature on May 24th and passed June 7, 2017. Whether it is "family-friendly" is a matter of opinion, but we can advise with certainty that it is not "employer-friendly."

The legislation includes significant changes that make it much easier to unionize a workplace and obtain a first collective agreement.  Remote work sites and plants are now at risk because overtime provisions have changed and new compressed work schedules must be approved by majority employee agreement or included in a collective agreement. 

There are also significant changes to enforcement, including large administrative penalties, inspections by Employment Standards Officers, and mandatory audit procedures.  Employers will need to make changes now to their policies, employment practices and workplace strategies in order to minimize legal risk. 

Below is a summary of the important changes.

EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS CODE

JOB PROTECTED LEAVES

  • The eligibility period, for an employee to be entitled to take a leave, for all current and new leaves, will be reduced from 52 weeks to 90 days.

Changes to Existing Leaves

Maternal and Parental Leave:

  • Leave increased from 15 weeks to 16 weeks.
  • Includes entitlement to leave if pregnancy does not result in live birth.
  • Job protection for parental leave remains at 37 weeks, but may be increased in the future to align with proposed federal Employment Insurance benefits.

Compassionate Care Leave

  • Leave increased from 8 weeks to 27 weeks.
  • Notice period of an employee's return to work reduced to 48 hours from 2 weeks.
  • Includes entitlement to leave for all employees, instead of only to primary caregivers. 

Introduction of New Unpaid Leaves:

  • Parents of Critically Ill or Injured Child: 36 weeks to provide care or support to a critically ill child
  • Crime Related Death or Disappearance of a Child: up to 52 weeks in the event of a disappearance of a child due to crime, or 104 weeks in the event of a death of a child due to crime
  • Long Term Illness and Injury: up to 16 weeks of leave due to illness, injury or quarantine. Eligibility for leave requires production of medical certificate
  • Domestic Violence: 10 days of leave
  • Bereavement: 3 days of leave
  • Domestic Violence:  10 days of leave
  • Citizenship Ceremony: half day to attend ceremony

CHANGES TO EXISTING STANDARDS

Compressed Workweek (CWW)

  • Existing CWW arrangements will remain valid until the coming into force of the new section on January 1, 2018, or the termination of the arrangement, whichever is earlier.
  • CWW arrangements will be replaced by hours of work averaging agreements. One or more employees may enter into an hours of work averaging agreement requiring the employer to average an employee's hours of work for a period of 1 to 12 weeks in order to determine whether the employee is entitled to overtime pay or time off in lieu.
  • All such agreements would require support of the majority of affected employees.
  • Scheduled hours of work are to remain at a maximum of 12 hours per day and 44 hours per week. 

Banked Overtime

  • Overtime agreements will require employers to provide 1.5 hours of time off with pay for each hour of overtime worked. This marks an increase from the current 1 hour worked to 1 hour banked.
  • The overtime banking period is increased from 3 months to 6 months.
  • Employers are prevented from requiring employees to use any banked overtime during their termination notice period.

Holiday Pay

  • The 30 day eligibility requirement for entitlement to holiday pay will be removed.
  • All employees will be entitled to holiday pay regardless of whether the holiday falls on a "regular work day" or not. 

Rest periods

  • Employees require a minimum of a 30-minute break (paid or unpaid) for every 5 hours of consecutive work.

Minimum age of Employment

  • The minimum age of employment is increased from 12 to 13 years.
  • Persons aged 13-15 may perform work in accordance with the light work list, which is expected to be updated by the fall of 2018.
  • Persons aged 16-17 may perform work that is not hazardous without any permit. 

Termination and Layoff

  • Employees who are laid off for more than 60 days in a 120 day period are deemed to have been terminated unless wages or benefits continue to be paid by the employer.
  • Employers must provide an employee with notice of a temporary layoff.
  • In the event of a group termination, employers will need to provide at least 8-16 weeks' notice to the Minister, depending on the number of employees being terminated.

Administration and Enforcement

  • Limitation period for filing a complaint is increased to 2 years (from 1 year).
  • Administrative penalties of up to $10,000 per day or for each contravention for failure to comply with legislation.
  • New inspection and audit powers granted to Employment Standards Branch.
  • Establishment of an administrative appeal body to hear appeals under the legislation.  (Likely Alberta Labour Relations Board).
  • Publication of information regarding employers found to contravene the Code will be allowed.
  • Applications for exemptions from Employment Standards can be made by individual employers to the Director, or by employer organizations, or industry groups to the Minister.  These will be subject to regulations to be promulgated and the outcome is unknown under the current government in Alberta.  Such applications should be prepared and submitted well prior to January 1, 2018.  For assistance, contact anyone in the labour and employment group at Gowling WLG.

LABOUR RELATIONS CODE

Rand Formula

  • Obligatory payment of union dues by employees in all collective agreements.

Union Certification Without A Vote

  • A representation vote is not required if the union can satisfy the Board that at the time of the application for certification, the union has the support of more than 65% of the employees in the unit through a signed petition or cards.  (Most unions can get more than enough cards signed in a certification drive!)
  • A representation vote will only be required where union support is between 40 percent and 65 percent or where evidence of support is through a petition.
  • The certification process will be subject to regulated timelines for certification.
  • The Board may certify or decertify a union without any vote or majority support when either an employer or a union has engaged in unfair practices.  The onus is now on employers to show that they did not commit an unfair labour practice.

Dependent contractors

  • Dependent contractors (as distinguished from independent contractors) are now covered by the Labour Relations Code and permitted to unionize and bargain collectively.
  • To determine whether a contractor is a dependent one, factors to consider include: economic dependence, workplace control and resemblance to employees.

First Contract Arbitration

  • If parties negotiating a collective agreement are unable to reach an agreement within 90 days from the commencement of the collective bargaining process, they may apply to the Board for binding arbitration to conclude the first collective agreement.  The application will be granted in cases of hard bargaining or unfair labour practices.

Broader Labour Board Powers

  • Provide the Labour Relations Board with the power and ability to:
    • order the pre-hearing production of documents;
    • keep confidential any information that the Board believes would harm labour relations if disclosed;
    • Expedite and prioritize the resolution of any complaints in which an employee has allegedly been discharged as a result of an unfair labour practice;
    • require an employer, employers' organization, employee, trade union or other person to do or refrain from doing anything that it is equitable for that party to do or refrain from doing in order to remedy or counteract any consequence of the contravention or failure to comply with this Act or its purpose;
    • make a marshalling order to ensure that a matter it not pursued in multiple forums; and
    • review arbitration decisions in the first instance.
  • Appealed Board decisions will proceed directly to the Court of Appeal.

Broader Arbitrator Powers

  • Provide arbitrators with the power and ability to:
    • Extend timelines for the grievance process and arbitration procedures;
    • Make interim orders;
    • Mediate; and
    • Expedite hearings.

Wage Freeze

  • The statutory wage freeze is extended from 60 days to 120 days.

Reverse Onus

  • The burden is on the employer to establish that it did not engage in unfair labor practices in complaints arising from discipline, dismissal, discrimination or intimidation of an employee.

Secondary Picketing

ul>

  • Secondary picketing is permitted.

Essential Services

  • The definition of essentials services was broadened to include a subsidiary health corporation of a regional health authority, health care laboratories and Canadian Blood Services as essential services provides. 

The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act amending Employment Standards will largely come into effect on January 1, 2018.  Some changes to the Labour Code come into effect immediately, others on proclamation.  This will dramatically impact your workplace.  

We recommend that employers immediately do the following:

  1. Conduct a gap analysis of employment policies and practices to transition to compliance with the new legislation;
  2. Update hiring documents and policies to comply; and,
  3. Review employment practices and strategies in order to minimize the risk of unionization.

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 Mondaq.com.

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

Authors
Events from this Firm
14 Sep 2017, Seminar, Birmingham, UK

Has Cloud replaced traditional outsourcing models? We will compare cloud to outsourcing, consider whether they have effectively become the same thing for many solutions and assess some of the advantages and disadvantages of each model.

18 Sep 2017, Seminar, London, UK

Our annual event as part of the London Design Festival is now in its fifth year. We would be delighted if you are able to join us again.

21 Sep 2017, Seminar, London, UK

Has Cloud replaced traditional outsourcing models? We will compare cloud to outsourcing, consider whether they have effectively become the same thing for many solutions and assess some of the advantages and disadvantages of each model.

 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
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
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (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 www.mondaq.com

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 Mondaq.com’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.

Disclaimer

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.

Registration

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 unsubscribe@mondaq.com 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.

Cookies

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.

Links

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.

Mail-A-Friend

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.

Security

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 webmaster@mondaq.com.

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 EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

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 enquiries@mondaq.com.

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