Edmonton Chapter News

Changes to the Employment Standards Code (effective January, 2018)

Dear Alberta members,

As part of Bill 17: The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act, the following changes will come into effect on January 1, 2018.

Leave eligibility

  • Employees will be eligible for current (excluding reservists leave) and new leaves after 90 days, rather than 1 year.

Compassionate care leave

  • Unpaid job protection will be extended to 27 weeks, from the current 8 weeks, to better align with federal Employment Insurance benefits.
  • Caregiver status will be expanded to include non-primary caregivers.
  • Leave will be available for multiple weekly installments within the period outlined in the medical certificate, rather than the current limit of 2 installments.
  • Notice to an employer will be kept at 2 weeks, however language indicating that leave can be taken as soon as reasonable will be added.
  • Notice to an employer of the employee's planned date of return to work will be reduced to one week from two weeks.
  • End date for compassionate care leave can be either the last day of the work week in which the family member dies or the employee ceases to provide care, or the end of the 27 week period (whichever is earlier).

New standards for compassionate care leave

Rest periods

  • Employees will be entitled to a minimum of a 30-minute break (paid or unpaid) withinevery 5 hours of consecutive employment. If agreed to by the employer and employees, breaks can be taken in two, 15-minute installments.

New standards for hours of work and rest

Compressed work weeks

  • This type of work arrangement has been renamed as "Averaging Agreements." All such agreements will require support of the majority of affected employees, or be contained within a union collective agreement.
  • Employers and employees will be allowed to agree to average work hours over a period of one to 12 weeks for the purpose of determining overtime eligibility. Work weeks may also be compressed as part of these agreements.
  • Employers that require longer cycles may apply for a permit.

New standards for averaging agreements

Deductions

  • The Code will be clarified to indicate which deductions will be allowed from wages, as well as explicitly prohibiting deductions for faulty work and cash shortages (i.e. dine-and-dash and gas-and-dash scenarios).

New standards for deducations from earnings

Overtime

  • Overtime agreements will allow time to be banked for 6 months rather than 3.
    Overtime banking will be calculated at 1.5x for all overtime hours worked, rather than hour-for-hour.

New standards for overtime

General holiday and general holiday pay

The requirement to have worked for 30 days in the 12 months before the holiday will be removed. The distinction between regular and non-regular days of work will be eliminated.
General Holiday pay will be calculated as 5% of wages, general holiday pay, and vacation pay earned in the 4 weeks immediately preceding the holiday.

New standards for general holidays

Vacations and vacation pay

  • The Code will be clarified to indicate that employees must be paid 4% or 2 weeks of their total wages as vacation pay until they have been employed for 5 years, after which they must receive at least 6%.
  • Half-day vacation increments will be allowed, up from a minimum of one day.

New standards for vacations and vacation pay

Termination and temporary layoffs

  • Rules regarding termination notice will be clarified.
  • Employers will be prohibited from forcing employees to use entitlements such as vacation or overtime during a termination notice period, unless agreed to by both.
  • Requirements for providing termination notice to large groups of employees, unions and the Minister of Labour will be increased and scaled:
    • 50–100 employees: 8 weeks
    • 101–300 employees: 12 weeks
    • 301+ employees: 16 weeks
  • The possibility of an indefinite temporary layoff will be eliminated by requiring layoffs be limited to 60 days within a 120-day period. Layoffs could be extended if wages and/or benefits are paid and the employee agrees.
  • Written notice of a temporary layoff to an employee will be required. Notice must contain effective date and outline applicable provisions of the Code.
  • Waiver of the notice requirement for unforeseen circumstances beyond an employer's control will be allowed.
  • Recall notices from temporary layoffs will be required to be written.
  • Termination pay will be calculated based on the previous 13 weeks of employment when the employee actually worked, not simply the calendar weeks preceding the termination.

New standards for group terminations
New standards for temporary layoffs
New standards for termination and termination pay

Additions to existing laws

The following will be added to the Employment Standards Code. They are designed to protect Alberta workers and align with current trends across the country. They will come into effect on January 1, 2018.

Leaves

All of the following job-protected leaves are unpaid.

  • Eligibility – Employees will be eligible for current (excluding reservists leave) and new leaves after 90 days, rather than one year.
  • Personal and Family Responsibility Leave – A new unpaid leave will provide up to 5 days of job protection per year for personal sickness or short-term care of an immediate family member. Includes attending to personal emergencies and caregiving responsibilities related to education of a child.
  • Long-Term Illness and Injury Leave – A new unpaid leave will provide up to 16 weeks of job protection per year for long-term personal sickness or injury. Medical certificate and reasonable notice will be required. This will align with the federal Employment Insurance program.
  • Bereavement Leave – A new unpaid leave will provide up to 3 days of job protection per year for bereavement of an immediate family member.
  • Domestic Violence Leave – A new unpaid leave will provide up to 10 days of job protection per year for employees addressing a situation of domestic violence.
  • Citizenship Ceremony Leave – A new unpaid leave will provide up to a half-day of job protection for employees attending a citizenship ceremony.
  • Critical Illness of an Adult Family Member – A new unpaid leave will provide up to 16 weeks of job protection for employees who take time off to care for an ill or injured adult family member. This will align with the federal Employment Insurance program.
  • Critical Illness of a Child – A new unpaid leave will provide up to 36 weeks of job protection for parents of critically ill or injured children. This will align with the federal Employment Insurance program.
  • Death or disappearance of a Child – A new unpaid leave will provide up to 52 weeks of job protection for employees whose child disappeared as a result of a crime, or up to 104 weeks if a child died as a result of a crime. This will align with the federal Employment Insurance program.

New standards for job-protected leaves

Enforcement and administration

  • A new administrative penalty system will be implemented for employers found to be in contravention of the Code. Details of the system are being developed and will be made public later this year.
  • The time period to commence prosecution will be increased from one to 2 years.
  • A future shift to the Labour Relations Board will be enabled for appeals.
  • The permitting process will be streamlined by setting clear and enforceable criteria and setting time limits on permits or variances. Criteria for permits or variances will be published in regulation or policy.
  • Permits previously granted to employer associations, or that allowed industry-wide exceptions, will be eliminated and replaced with regulations. This will enable a transparent process that will allow for industry to create rules within regulations that are unique to its sector's needs.
  • Employment Standards Officers will be given the authority to direct employers to conduct self-audits in a form prescribed by the Ministry.
  • Clarifications to the Code will be added that establish time periods for the recovery of earnings that are not dependent on when the order was issued, and to allow orders to capture a broader range of entitlements.
  • Changes will be made to allow the Labour Relations Board to hear appeals.

Mary McIninch, B.A, LL.B (Membre du Barreau du Québec)  | mmcininch@bbandc.com
Executive Director, Government Relations/Directrice Générale
Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services 
Association Nationale des Entreprises en Recrutement et Placement de Personnel 
T 905-826-6869 | Toll free 888-232-4962
acsess.org