Viewpoint.

Date01 September 2019
AuthorMerritt, Victoria

Something Old Becomes Something New

Alberta's Employment Standards Code

Employers and employees in Alberta should be aware of changes made to the Employment Standards Code, most of which will take effect this fall.

As expected, the new government has reversed many of the changes that the NDP implemented to employment standards in 2017. However, not all the changes that were made have been reversed. For example, employees still have access to all the new unpaid leaves that were introduced, such as personal and family responsibility leave.

This article reviews the major areas of change--most of which represent a return to pre-NDP law--including general holiday pay eligibility, overtime pay, and a lower minimum wage for students.

The government made these changes through Bill 2: An Act to Make Alberta Open for Business, which became law in Alberta in July 2019, along with some corresponding regulatory changes.

General Holiday Pay: Stricter Eligibility Requirements

Starting September 1, 2019, the restrictions around holiday pay will be tightened.

Employees will once again only earn holiday pay if they have worked for their employer for at least 30 days in the last 12 months before the holiday. This means that new employees may not be eligible for holiday pay in their first few weeks of employment.

Employees will only get holiday pay if the holiday falls on a day that is normally a workday for the employee. If the holiday is on a day that is not normally a workday for the employee, and the employee does not work, the employee is not entitled to holiday pay. For example, if an employee only works Monday to Thursday, they are not eligible for holiday pay if the holiday falls on a Friday (unless they work on the holiday).

For employees that work irregular hours (for example, shift workers), eligibility is determined based on whether the employee worked on that weekday in at least 5 of the 9 weeks before the holiday. For example, if an employee has worked every Monday since April 29, 2019, the employee would get holiday pay for July 1, 2019 (Canada Day).

Another restriction is that an employee is not entitled to holiday pay if the employee:

* does not work on a general holiday when they were required or scheduled to do so, or

* is absent from work, without the employer's approval, on the employee's last regular work day before, or the employee's first regular work day after, a general holiday.

The government described these changes as "reducing...

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