Changes to employment standards rules in the Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act are in effect for temporary layoffs, group terminations, and variances and exemptions. All other employment standards changes take effect November 1.

Basic rules

  • Individual employers, a group of employers, or an employer association may apply to the Director of Employment Standards for a variance or exemption to certain minimum standards.
  • The application process and requirements may differ depending on the provisions that the applicant wishes to vary. Applications for the following variances can be submitted online:
    • Three-hour pay minimum
    • Extend days of work
    • Extend hours of work
    • Extend period of averaging
  • Applications for all other Director’s variances (Notice of work times, Rest periods, and Overtime hours) can be submitted to Employment Standards via email: lbr.espermits@gov.ab.ca.
  • If a group of employers is applying for a variance, they need to appoint a representative to submit an application and communicate on behalf of the group.
  • The Director of Employment Standards issues variances at their discretion.
  • Employment standards variances may be amended or revoked at any time.

Required information

Before starting an application, please be aware that the following information is required to complete an application.

For individual employers

  • Specify the provisions of the Code or Regulation for which the variance or exemption is requested.
  • Explain the extent, impact and duration of the requested variance and the rationale for the request, including factors beyond the employer’s control if applicable.
  • Identify the job titles or functions of the employees to whom the requested order would apply, or the type of employment to which the order would apply.
  • Include identifying information for the employer, including:
    • the employer's legal name (and operating name if different), address, telephone number and signature of an authorized representative
    • the corresponding WCB industry code and account numbers

For employer groups or employer associations

  • Specify the provisions of the Code or Regulation for which the variance or exemption is requested.
  • Explain the extent, impact and duration of the requested variance and the rationale for the request, including factors beyond the employers’ control if applicable.
  • Identify the job titles or functions of the employees to whom the requested order would apply, or the type of employment to which the order would apply.
  • Include identifying information for all employers in the group, including:
    • each employer's legal name (and operating name if different), address, telephone number and signature of an authorized representative
    • the corresponding WCB industry code and account numbers for each employer
  • Provide the name, telephone number, and email address of the individual authorized to represent and communicate on behalf of the group.

Variance types

Applications can be submitted to the Director for the following types of variances:

Three-hour pay minimum

This variance allows employers to provide less than 3 hours’ pay when calling in an employee.

Extend days of work

This variance allows employers to extend the consecutive days of work for employees beyond the maximum of 24 consecutive days.

Extend hours of work

This variance allows employers to extend the hours of work in a day for employees beyond the maximum of a 12 consecutive hour period.

Extend period of averaging

This variance allows employers to extend the averaging period for Hours of Work Averaging Agreements beyond the maximum 12 weeks.

Notice of work times

This variance allows employers to follow modified arrangements for providing notice of work times.

Rest periods

This variance allows employers to follow modified arrangements for providing breaks (rest periods).

Overtime hours

This variance allows employers to specify different overtime thresholds.

Submitting an application

Submit your application online for the following variances:

  • Three-hour pay minimum
  • Extend days of work
  • Extend hours of work
  • Extend period of averaging

Applications for all other Director’s variances (Notice of work times, Rest periods, and Overtime hours) can be submitted to Employment Standards via email: lbr.espermits@gov.ab.ca.

After an application is reviewed

The Director of Employment Standards will notify the employers in writing of a decision on a variance application. If the variance is approved, the employer is responsible for notifying the affected employees.

The Director of Employment Standards may amend or revoke the variance at any time.

Publication of variances

See a current list of variances at the Registry of Employment Standards Director’s Variances.

How the law applies

Part 3.1 of the Employment Standards Regulation outlines the variance application process and section 63.3 outlines publication of variances.

Disclaimer: In the event of any discrepancy between this information and Alberta Employment Standards legislation, the legislation is considered correct.