EMPLOYMENT | COVID-19: Temporary changes to Alberta's Employment Standard Code.

AuthorSteingard, Jessica

COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of people's lives in Alberta, across Canada and around the world. Governments have scrambled to approve stimulus packages, update public health orders, and change laws to respond to this new disease.

Alberta declared a public health emergency under the Public Health Act on March 17, 2020. Doing so gives the government powers to temporarily suspend or change any part of a law through a Ministerial Order. The government posts all of Alberta's public health orders and Ministerial Orders online.

Ministerial Order 18/2020 dated April 6, 2020 makes temporary changes to Alberta's Employment Standards Code. The Employment Standards Code and the Ministerial Order apply to most workers in Alberta. For more information about who is not covered, see CPLEA's Employment FAQs.

What are the temporary changes to the Code?

Ministerial Order 18/2020 introduced several temporary changes:

  1. Notice of Schedule Changes

    Employers are usually supposed to give employees at least 24 hours' written notice of a shift change. Right now, employers only have to give written notice as soon as possible in the circumstances. The requirement for 8 hours of rest between shifts has not changed.

    Under an Averaging Agreement, an employee can make a temporary change to the employer's schedule by giving them at least 2 weeks' notice before the change comes into effect. Right now, employers only have to give employees notice as soon as possible in the circumstances.

    These changes will allow employers and employees to respond quickly to staffing needs.

  2. Job-Protected Unpaid Leaves

    Normally, an employee is entitled to up to 5 days of unpaid leave to deal with their own health or to meet their responsibilities in relation to a family member. Employees usually must be employed for 90 days to qualify for this leave.

    Right now, an employee is entitled to unpaid leave for the period of time directed by Dr. Hinshaw to allow the employee to meet their responsibilities in relation to a family member who is under quarantine as well as any of their children affected by school or daycare closures. An employee does not need to have worked for the same company for 90 days to qualify for this leave. As well, an employee must give their employer documentation to prove the leave at a time when it is reasonable to do so. Employees are not required to provide a medical certificate.

  3. Group Terminations

    Normally, an employer must notify the Minister of Labour and...

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