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Alberta bill overhauls outdated workplace legislation

Friday, May 26, 2017

Alberta Minister of Labour Christina Gray presented Bill 17: The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act on Wednesday that seeks to overhaul the province’s antiquated workplace legislation.

Both the Employment Standards Code and Labour Relation Code haven’t been significantly updated in more than 30 years. Proposed amendments aim to support modern, family-friendly workplaces and brings these standards up to par with the rest of Canada.

“All Albertans deserve to be treated fairly at work,” said Gray. “Modern and balanced workplace laws protect the rights of Albertans, support their families and help businesses stay competitive.

The Bill strengthens leave provisions for Albertans who are sick, caring for a family member, earning citizenship or fleeing domestic violence. It also removes a provision that allowed employers to apply for a permit to pay persons with disabilities less than minimum wage.

If passed, amendments would also improve and align maternity leave and compassionate care leave with federal policies. Maternity leave would be extended by one week to 16 weeks, and compassionate care leave would extend from eight weeks to 27 weeks.

The Bill updates existing standards such as overtime, vacation pay and termination notice, and makes it easier to unionize and decertify. Paid farm workers would also be allowed to unionize and have rights regarding vacation pay and youth employment.

Following a focus review that involved more than 7,000 organization and people, other changes suggest stronger administrative penalties must be enforced when violating the Employment Standards Code.

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