Important changes to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code (the “Code”) come into effect in just a few short weeks. In order to align the Employment Standards Regulation with these changes, on December 7, 2017 the Government of Alberta released Order in Council 441/2017, The Employment Standards Amendment Regulation, which comes into force on January 1, 2018 (the “Amended Regulation”).
Although the Code changes only extended maternity leave by one week (from 15 to 16 weeks) and did not increase parental leave, under the Amended Regulation, parental leaves have been brought into alignment with the Employment Insurance amendments, allowing up to 62 weeks of parental leave or leave for adoptive parents.
With regard to averaging and flexible averaging agreements, the new Amended Regulation sections include definitions and detailed guidelines related to overtime thresholds and pay requirements, set work schedules and related documentation requirements, limitations on the ability for an employer to change set work schedules, notice periods required for any changes necessary, and termination provisions.
The Amended Regulation also aims to strengthen the Code’s restriction against new unauthorized deductions by including a prohibition in the Amended Regulation against employers making deductions from employee’s wages for the furnishing, use, repair or laundering of any uniforms or special articles of wearing apparel that the employer requires the employee to wear during the employee’s hours of work. It also clarifies the limitations and restrictions on employing individuals under the age of 18, delineating between different fields of work and different age groups (12 and under, 13-14 year olds and 15-17 year olds).
New sections will also be added to the Amended Regulation in relation to new job-protected leaves, averaging agreements, flexible averaging agreements, and provisions related to farming and ranching operations.
Currently the Employment Standards Regulation contains limited guidance as to job-protected leaves and addresses only compassionate care leave. On January 1, 2018, this will be expanded under the Amended Regulation to include clarification and direction as to personal and family responsibility leave, bereavement leave, critical illness leave, and maternity and parental leave.
The definition of family member for the purpose of bereavement leave and critical illness leave is the same as that for compassionate care leave, which remains substantially the same. However the definition of family member in relation to personal and family responsibility leave is a much more restrictive definition.
The Order in Counsel attempts to clarify certain definitions found in the current Employment Standards Regulations including: “adolescent” under section 11(3)(c) as an individual who is 13, 14 or 15 years of age; “faulty work” to include any act or omission of an employee that results in a loss to the employee’s employer; and certain categories of people as defined under the Securities Act, Insurance Act,Health Professions Act, Chartered Professional Accountants Act, and Agrology Profession Act
The new Employment Standards Regulation will also include a schedule related to administrative penalties that may be imposed for contravention or failure to comply with the Code or the Regulation.
We will be issuing a series of articles that dig into the details of the Regulation on matters such as averaging agreements, job-protected leaves and deductions from an employee’s wages, so please stay tuned! In the meantime, for more information on the upcoming changes, or for an in depth discussion regarding how to prepare your workplace, please contact Field Law’s Labour & Employment Group.