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Fall 2019 Essential HR Updates: What Employers & Employees Need to Know – Wendy Ferguson


commentary by Wendy Ferguson

An abundance of employment legislation changes have taken place in Alberta and Canada this September and it is important that employers ensure compliance and that employees are informed.   I felt it appropriate to kick off the season with an important update with respect to all areas of HR in Alberta!

  1. Alberta Employment Standards – New Legislation September 1, 2019

In order to reduce the burden on job creators and in an effort to get Albertans back to work, the UCP government has introduced new employment rules.  In short, these include:

  • General holiday pay rules have been revamped. In brief, the qualifying period has been restored to 30 days from the previous 0 days.  The rules surrounding general holiday (statutory holiday) pay calculations have been updated.
  • Overtime rules have been updated. Employers and Employees once again have the option to develop straight-time banked hour arrangements, meaning an agreement can be made to bank 1 hour of overtime in exchange for 1 hour of time off at a later date.
  • Labour relations legislation has been restored to pre-NDP government laws surrounding secret ballot votes and certification periods.
  1. Canada Labour Code – New Legislation September 1, 2019

Federally regulated businesses and industries across Canada are governed by this Code.  These include: federal government entities, banks, marine shipping, ferry & port services, air transport, railway and road transport, telephone and cable systems, radio and television, grain elevators, uranium mining, fisheries, First Nation activities and federal Crown corporations.   Federally regulated businesses make up for about 6% of all Canadian workers and many of them are in Alberta.

You may not be a federally regulated business, but it is still important for the private sector to pay attention to federal employment legislation changes because it is normally only a matter of time before provincial employment standards follow suit (often a few years later).

Some recent changes that stand out and as compared with Alberta employment legislation:

  • After 6 months of employment an employee is now permitted to request a change in working conditions, work schedule or work location.
  • Employees now have the right to refuse overtime in order to carry out their family responsibilities, subject to certain exceptions.
  • Domestic Violence leave – 5 of the 10 days will be paid time off after 3 months of employment (current Alberta Employment Standards: 10 days unpaid time off after 90 days of employment with same employer).
  • Leave for Traditional Aboriginal Practices are now granted up to 5 days unpaid leave per calendar year and restricted to Aboriginal persons.
  • Bereavement Leave – 5 days leave, in which 3 are paid (current Alberta Employment Standards: 3 days unpaid leave after 90 day of employment with same employer)
  • Overtime – 1 hour worked = 1.5 hours paid or 1.5 hours in time off. This is the same legislation that Alberta’s NDP government had in place until the UCP reversed it on September 1st.
  • Notice of Work Schedule – employers must provide written notice to employees of their work schedule 96 hours prior to the first work period subject to certain exceptions. Employees have the right to refuse to work any shifts that start within 96 hours of the time the schedule is provided to them, subject to exceptions (current Alberta Employment Standards: employers must notify their employees of the time that work starts and ends by posting notices or by other reasonable methods and must provide at least 24 hours’ written notice of a shift change).
  • Medical and Nursing Breaks – employees are entitled to unpaid breaks necessary for medical reasons and nursing mothers are entitled to unpaid breaks to allow them to nurse or express milk.
  • Personal Leave – employees are entitled to 5 days, in which 3 are paid for illnesses or injury or carrying for family members in relation to their health (current Alberta Employment Standards: 5 days of job-protected unpaid sick leave under the Personal and Family Responsibility Leave are permitted per calendar year for personal health issues or family needs for employees employed at least 90 days with the same employer. Half day increments may be taken if agreed upon between employer and employee).
  • Vacation Pay – after 10 years of employment, 4 weeks’ vacation pay has been legislated (currently in Alberta it is capped at 3 weeks minimum after 5 years+)
  1. WCB Alberta – Update

If you have a worker with an open WCB-Alberta claim, encourage them to download the newly launched app [myWCBapp] so that workers can easily view their claim information, payment history and upcoming payments, submit expenses and update their claims.

  1. Human Rights Commission Alberta – Update

Did you know that the HRC now offers full-day Human Rights in the Workplace workshops intended for anyone wanting to gain basic human rights information?  These sessions cost only $131.25 and provide an overview of Alberta Human Rights legislation, an employer’s duty to accommodate, harassment in the workplace and strategies for prevention.   To view the fall and winter schedule, for Calgary and Edmonton visit: www.albertahumanrights.ab.ca/education/workshops/Pages/public_workshops.aspx

If you require assistance in updating your policies, contact Stick People Solutions today.


Wendy Ferguson is a Human Resources Professional and owner of Stick People Solutions (SPS), providing simple, flexible and effective solutions for complex people issues.  SPS specializes in employment legislation, policy, workplace investigations and recruiting.  Please follow Wendy Ferguson on LinkedIn for future articles about HR in Alberta.

Email: info@stickpeoplesolutions.com
Web: www.stickpeoplesolutions.com



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