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September 2017 Newsletter
In This Issue
  • Thanks for Joining Us!
  • Overview
  • Changes to Existing Laws
  • Additions to Existing Laws
    • Leaves
    • Enforcement and Administration
  • Comparative Synopsis of Bill 17 Changes Effective January 1, 2018
September 2017
Volume 4, Number 9

Thanks for Joining Us!

September has arrived and after a break in August, we are ready to continue providing you with detailed and timely content and information take-aways.

This month we are focusing on upcoming changes to Alberta's Workplace Legislation and the impacts it will have on your organizations, your employees, and your current policies.

We have included major changes and additions as outlined in the Government of Alberta website .

As there are quite a few changes that will effect your employees, we suggest all company policy manuals be updated. We are offering this service at a flat rate of $475.00.

If you would like us to assist you or have any questions, please call Wendy Giuffre at 403-815-4336.

Keep reading for more learning. 


The Government of Alberta website states:

Alberta has some of the oldest workplace legislation in Canada. The Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code were not significantly updated for almost 30 years. The nature of work and family life has changed a lot in that time.

Following a review of existing laws using input from business, industry, organized labour, non-profits and the general public, proposed changes to the Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code were introduced in Bill 17: The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act. The Act was passed on June 5, 2017 and received Royal Assent on June 7.

The changes will make sure Albertans have the same rights and protections enjoyed by other Canadians, and have fair and family-friendly workplace laws that support a strong economy and help businesses stay competitive. This includes:

  • ensuring parents of critically-ill or injured children can take time off to care for their family without fear of losing their job
  • allowing Albertans the time they need to care for themselves if they're dealing with a short-term illness or domestic violence, or mourning the loss of a loved one
  • lowering the threshold for maternity leave and providing for the extension of parental leave to allow greater flexibility for working families

Changes to Existing Laws

These changes will take effect January 1, 2018

Leave eligibility

  • Employees will be eligible for current and new leaves after 90 days, rather than 1 year.

Compassionate care leave

  • Job protection will be extended to 27 weeks, from the current 8 weeks, to better align with federal Employment Insurance benefits.
  • Caregiver status will be expanded to include non-primary caregivers.
  • Leave will be available for multiple weekly installments within the period outlined in the medical certificate, rather than the current limit of 2 installments.
  • Notice to an employer will be kept at 2 weeks, however language indicating that leave can be taken as soon as reasonable will be added.
  • End date for a leave can be either the date of death of the family member or the end of the 27-week period (whichever is earlier), or the employer would be allowed to postpone the employee’s return for 2 weeks when leave ends and the employee fails to return to work or provide proper notice.

Maternity/parental leave

  • These changes align the allowable leave with federal Employment Insurance guidelines.
  • Job protection for maternity leave will be extended from 15 to 16 weeks to account for the one-week waiting time for federal Employment Insurance benefits.
  • Job protection for parental leave will remain at 37 weeks, but may be increased in the future to align with proposed federal Employment Insurance benefits.
  • Legislation for the following will be modified such that:
    • an employee may be terminated during the notice/entitlement period ONLY for situations where the business is closed or suspended
    • leave will not apply if pregnancy terminates more than 16 weeks before due date
    • an employee whose pregnancy terminates within 16 weeks of the due date will still be eligible for maternity leave; leave will end either 16 weeks after the leave began or 6 weeks after the pregnancy is terminated

Rest periods

  • Employees will be entitled to a minimum of a 30-minute break (paid or unpaid) within every 5 hours of consecutive employment. If agreed to by the employer and employees, breaks can be taken in two, 15-minute installments.

Compressed work weeks

  • This type of work arrangement has been renamed as “Averaging Agreements.” All such agreements will require support of the majority of affected employees, or be contained within a union collective agreement.
  • Employers and employees will be allowed to agree to average work hours over a period of 1 to 12 weeks for the purpose of determining overtime eligibility. Employers that require longer cycles may apply for a permit.


  • The Code will be clarified to indicate which deductions will be allowed from wages, as well as explicitly prohibiting deductions for faulty work and cash shortages (i.e. dine-and-dash and gas-and-dash scenarios).

Minimum wage

  • The ability for employers to pay employees with disabilities less than minimum wage will be removed.


  • Overtime agreements will allow time to be banked for 6 months rather than 3.
  • Overtime banking will be calculated at 1.5x for all overtime hours worked, rather than hour-for-hour.

General holiday and general holiday pay

  • The requirement to have worked for 30 days in the 12 months before the holiday will be removed. Regular and non-regular day of work distinction will be eliminated.
  • General Holiday pay will be calculated as 5% of wages, general holiday pay, and vacation pay received in the previous 4 weeks worked.

Vacations and vacation pay

  • The Code will be clarified to indicate that employees must be paid 4% or 2 weeks of their total wages as vacation pay until they have been employed for 5 years, after which they must receive at least 6%.
  • Half-day vacation increments will be allowed, up from a minimum of 1 day.

Termination and temporary layoffs

  • Employers will have options when employees provide more notice of termination than required by the Code.
  • Employers will be prohibited from forcing employees to use entitlements such as vacation or overtime during a termination notice period, unless agreed to by both.
  • Requirements for providing termination notice to large groups of employees, unions and the Minister of Labour will be increased and scaled:
    • 50–100 employees: 8 weeks
    • 101–300 employees: 12 weeks
    • 301+ employees: 16 weeks
  • The possibility of an indefinite temporary layoff will be eliminated by requiring layoffs be limited to 60 days within a 120-day period. Layoffs could be extended if wages and/or benefits are paid and the employee agrees.
  • Written notice of a temporary layoff to an employee will be required. Notice must contain effective date and outline applicable provisions of the Code.
  • Waiver of the notice requirement for unforeseen circumstances beyond an employer’s control will be allowed.
  • Recall notices from temporary layoffs will be required to be written.
  • Termination pay will be calculated based on the previous 13 weeks of employment when the employee actually worked, not simply the calendar weeks preceding the termination.

Youth employment

  • With the exception of artistic endeavours, youth under the age of 13 will not be allowed to work. (Youth under 13 will be allowed to be employed in artistic endeavours such as a theatre production with a permit.)
  • The Ministry will consult to modernize the list of allowable ‘light work’ jobs for youth under 16 to include, for example, accommodation and food service tasks such as setting tables, golf caddying or working in a pro shop (not including cash registers) and tutoring, etc. The list will then be reviewed and updated every 3 years. Taking a job that is not on the list will require a permit.
  • The Ministry will also consult to establish a list of hazardous work for young people.
  • Youth under 16 will be prohibited from jobs deemed to include hazardous work.
  • 16 and 17-year-olds will be allowed to do hazardous work only with a permit, and with proper training and supervision.

NOTE: No changes are being made immediately. These changes will come into effect after the Ministry finishes consultations on the lists of light work and hazardous jobs. Upcoming changes will have no effect on youth activities such as 4-H, or branding parties, and won’t stop friends and neighbours from helping each other as they have done for generations.


Additions to existing laws

The following will be added to the Employment Standards Code. They are designed to protect Alberta workers and align with current trends across the country. They will come into effect on January 1, 2018.


Long-Term Illness and Injury Leave – A new unpaid leave will provide up to 16 weeks of job protection per year for long-term personal sickness or injury. Medical certificate and reasonable notice will be required. This will align with the federal Employment Insurance program.

Personal and Family Responsibility Leave – A new unpaid leave will provide up to 5 days of job protection per year for personal sickness or short-term care of an immediate family member. Includes attending to personal emergencies and caregiving responsibilities related to education of a child.

Bereavement Leave – A new unpaid leave will provide up to 3 days of job protection per year for bereavement of an immediate family member.

Domestic Violence Leave – A new unpaid leave will provide up to 10 days of job protection per year for employees addressing a situation of domestic violence.

Citizenship Ceremony Leave – A new unpaid leave will provide up to a half-day of job protection for employees attending a citizenship ceremony.

Critical Illness of a Child – A new unpaid leave will provide up to 36 weeks of job protection for parents of critically ill or injured children. This will align with the Federal Employment Insurance program.

Death or disappearance of a Child – A new unpaid leave will provide up to 52 weeks of job protection for employees whose child disappeared as a result of a crime, or up to 104 weeks if a child died as a result of a crime. This will align with the federal Employment Insurance program.

Enforcement and administration

An administrative penalty system will be implemented for employers found to be in contravention of the Code.

The time period to commence prosecution will be increased from 1 to 2 years.

A future shift to the Labour Relations Board will be enabled for appeals.

The permitting process will be streamlined by setting clear and enforceable criteria and setting time limits on permits. Criteria for permits will be published in regulation or policy.

Group or industry permits will be eliminated and replaced with regulations. This will enable a transparent process that will allow for industry to create rules within regulations that are unique to its sector’s needs.

Employment Standards Officers will be given the authority to direct employers to conduct self-audits in a form prescribed by the Ministry.

Publication of information regarding employers found to contravene the Code will be allowed.

The ability of the Employment Standards Director to issue third party demands to include recovery of fees and costs owed to Employment Standards will be expanded. In addition, the repercussions for failures to comply will be clarified.

When necessary, collections will be allowed from a joint bank account as currently provided in the Civil Enforcement Act.

The legislative time limit for Employment Standards Officers to issue orders, within reason, will be removed.

Clarifications to the Code will be added that establish time periods for the recovery of earnings that are not dependent on when the order was issued, and to allow orders to capture a broader range of entitlements.
Comparative Synopsis of Bill 17 Changes
Effective January 1, 2018
 Section  New Legislation  Old Legislation  PotentialCost to Employer
 Leave Eligibility

 Eligibility is 90  days 

 Eligibility is 1  year


 Compassionate  Care Leave

 Job protection is  27 weeks
 Caregiver status  includes non-primary  caregivers

 Job protection is  8 weeks

 Parental Leave

 Maternity Leave is 16 weeks, to align  with the new  shortened EI  waiting  period of 1 week
 Entitled to Maternity Leave if pregnancy  doesn’t result in live birth within 16  weeks of due date
 Parental Leave remains at 37 weeks  within the 53 weeks now available birth  or  adoption but may be increased in  the future to align with proposed  Federal  changes to EI benefits

 Maternity leave is 15 weeks

 Rest Periods

 Employees will be entitled to a  minimum of a 30-minute break (paid or  unpaid) within every 5 hours of  consecutive employment (with  agreement 30 minutes can become 2 x  15 minutes)  Employees will be entitled to a  minimum of a 30 minutes break  (paid or unpaid)  during each shift  in excess of five  consecutive hours  of work
 Minimum Wage

 Employees with disabilities are entitled  to minimum wage

 If there is an arrangement between  the employer and the employee the  employer can pay the employee a  wage less than minimum wage

 Overtime agreements will allow time to  be banked for 6 months
 Overtime banking will be calculated at  1.5x for all overtime hours work

 Overtime agreements will allow time  to be banked for 3 months 

 Overtime banking will be calculated   based on hour-for-hour
General Holidays

 Eligible for General Holiday pay  immediately.
 No difference between  regular and  non-regular day or work – still entitled  to General Holiday pay
 General Holiday pay on days not  worked will be calculated as 5% of  wages, general holiday pay, and  vacation pay received in the previous 4  weeks worked 
 General Holiday pay on days worked is  the same (average daily wage + 1.5 x  wage for hours worked OR wage for  hours worked + a day off on another  work day)
 Holiday pay is required upon  termination for any substitute holidays  not taken (e.g. alternate days off or  holidays during a vacation). Calculation  depends on whether employee quits or  employer terminates
 Employee must have worked 30  days before the employee is  eligible for General  Holiday pay


 Deductions from wages only permitted  by law or where authorized in writing by  the employee
 Prohibits deductions for faulty work,  cash shortages


Compressed Work Weeks


 Replaced with “Averaging Agreements”

 Employers and employees will be  allowed to agree to average work hours  over a period of 1 to 12 weeks for the  purpose of determining overtime  eligibility
 Averaging agreements must be in  writing
 Agreements may be with one employee  or a group (with majority support)
 Agreements must have a maximum term of 2 years

 Agreements must specify daily and  weekly hours of work not to exceed 12  daily and 44 weekly average

 Agreements must specify the manner in  which overtime pay and time off with  pay will be calculated
 a copy must be provided to all  employees
 Compressed work weeks no longer  exist
 Compressed work weeks currently  in force may continue for 1 year or  until a new collective agreement

 Vacation and  Vacation Pay
 Employees can take vacation in half  days
 Vacation must be taken in a  minimum one day increments
 Termination and  Temporary  Layoffs

 Employers will be prohibited from  forcing employees to use entitlements  such as vacation  or banked overtime  or banked general holidays during a  termination notice period, unless  agreed by both
 Requirements for providing termination  notice to large groups of employees,  unions and the Minister of Labour is  increased:

 50-100 employees: 8 weeks
 101-299 employees: 12 weeks
 300+ employees: 16 weeks
 Temporary layoff limited to 60 days  within a 120 day period (except in  certain circumstances)
 If wages vary, termination pay  calculated on an average of the last 13  weeks in which the employee worked  prior to the termination

 If an employer intends to terminate  the employment of 50 or more  employees at a single location  within a four week period the  employer must give the Minister  four weeks’ written notiice

 Temporary layoff becomes  termination on the 60th consecutive  day except in certain circumstances
 If wages vary, termination pay  calculated based on average of 3  month period before termination


 Youth  Employment

 Youth under the age of 13 will not be  allowed to work with the exception of  artistic endeavors
 Youth 13-15 will be allowed to work in  artistic endeavours or light work
 16- and 17-year olds will be allowed to  do hazardous work only with a permit,  and with proper training and  supervision and protection of health,  safety and well-being.

 Children under the age of 12 will not  be allowed to work with the  exception of artistic endeavors
 Children required to attend school  may not be employed during school  hours
 Children under 15 may generally  not be employed without parental  consent
 Regulations restrict type of work  performed by adolescents (12-14  years) and young persons (15-17  years)
Added Leaves 


 Reduce eligibility for all unpaid leaves  from 52 weeks of employment to 90  days
 Long Term Illness and Injury Leave:  a new unpaid leave provides up to 16  weeks in a year of unpaid leave for  long-term personal illness or injury
 Personal and Family Responsibility  Leave: a new unpaid leave provides up  to 5 days in a year of unpaid leave as    necessary for the health of the  employee or to meet family  responsibilities
 Bereavement Leave: a new unpaid  leave provides up to 3 days of unpaid  leave in a year on the death of a family  member
 Domestic Violence Leave: a new  unpaid leave provides up to 10 days of  unpaid leave per year where the  employee, or a dependent child or  protected adult is in a situation of  domestic violence
 Citizenship Ceremony Leave: a new  unpaid leave provides up to a half day  of unpaid leave for employees  attending a citizenship ceremony
 Critical Illness of a Child: a new  unpaid  leave provides up to 36 weeks  of  unpaid leave for parents of a  critically ill child
 Death or disappearance of a Child: a  new unpaid leave provides up to 52  weeks of unpaid leave for employees  whose child disappeared as a result of  a crime, or up to 104 weeks if a child  died as a result of a crime

About Wendy Ellen Inc.
Wendy Ellen Inc. specializes in providing human resource and benefits management skills to small to mid-sized companies on an as-needed basis. From recruitment, Human Resource policy development and legislative compliance, employee retention and engagement, individual advisor/coaching, succession planning to employee development and performance, Wendy Ellen Inc. will help you protect your most valuable resource, your people.
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