“Bill 2 – Proposed Changes to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code”

As we previously reported, the changes contemplated by the Alberta recently elected United Conservative Party government are one step closer to becoming law. On May 27, 2019, the Alberta government executed an Order in Council amending Alberta’s Employment Standards Regulation and Bill 2, An Act to Make Alberta Open for Business, passed its first reading at the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.

Key Changes to the Employment Standards

Youth Minimum Wage – Effective June 26, 2019

The minimum wage for student employees under the age of 18 and enrolled in an educational institution will be reduced to $13.00/hour. The reduced minimum wage will apply to work performed during a school break or for the first 28 hours in a work week. For any hours over 28 hours in a work week the minimum wage will be the standard rate ($15.00/hour).

Overtime – Effective September 1, 2019

The Employment Standards Code will be amended to restore the ability of employers and employees to bank time off with pay, or lieu time on a 1 for 1 basis instead of being paid overtime. Currently, overtime agreements require lieu time be accrued on a 1.5x basis. Flexible Averaging Agreements will be repealed as the proposed changes to overtime banking will render this type of agreement unnecessary.

Holiday Pay – Effective September 1, 2019

On May 24, 2017, the requirement that an employee work for 30 work days or more to be eligible for general holiday pay was removed. Bill 2 has re-implemented the 30 day qualifying period to be eligible for general holiday pay. Additionally, the holiday must fall on a day that the employee would have normally worked in order to receive the general holiday pay. For employees on an irregular schedule, the employee must have worked on the same weekday on which the general holiday falls for at least 5 out of the 9 weeks immediately preceding the general holiday.

Key Changes to the Labour Relations Code

Union Certification – Effective May 27, 2019

For unionized workplaces, the mandatory secret ballot for union certification votes will be restored. While the 40% support required to have a vote will remain, the automatic union certification of a bargaining unit with evidence that 65% of the employees support the union will be removed. Further, the period for unions to provide evidence of employee support for certification will return to a 90-day period from the current 6 month period.

Supports for Employees – Effective October 1, 2019

The Minister of Labour is expected to introduce a program to provide support and assistance to employees with respect to matters under labour legislation. The details of the program are not yet established.

Takeaways for Employers

If passed, these amendments will have an impact on employers’ policies and practices. In particular, employers are reminded to review any overtime agreements and holiday pay practices.

More legislative changes affecting Alberta workplaces are expected. We will provide updates as changes are implemented.

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