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COVID-19 Updates: State of public health emergency declared.

Alberta Biz Connect

Workplace guidance and supports to help businesses and non-profits affected by COVID-19 operate safely and support their recovery.

Supports for businesses and critical workers

Public health restrictions are in place to reduce the impacts of COVID-19 on the health care system. Some businesses can participate in the Restrictions Exemption Program.
A one-time payment to recognize Alberta’s critical workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Businesses and non-profits can apply for funding to reduce the cost of hiring and training Albertans for new jobs.
Employers and service providers can apply to implement a rapid COVID-19 testing program in their organization.
A waitress wearing a mask cleans tables in a restaurant

Public health measures

Starting September 20, new public health measures come into effect that include capacity and operating restrictions. Some discretionary businesses, entities and operators have the option to either comply with the restrictions or implement the Restrictions Exemption Program that permits them to operate as usual if they require patrons aged 12 and older to provide proof of vaccination or negative test result. Mandatory indoor masking is still required.

Workplace guidance

Workplaces and businesses should assess the risk of COVID transmission and follow all mandatory public health restrictions.

For businesses that are not under public health restrictions that would like to continue additional precautions, general guidance is available that offers mitigations that reduce the transmission risk of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.

Businesses are required to continue to assess the risk of all biological hazards and control the identified risks based on occupational health and safety (OH&S) requirements. Here are a few resources:

Workplace rules

  • Temporary layoffs

    An employee can be temporarily laid off due to COVID-19 for 180 consecutive days from the initial layoff date.

    If the employee is not recalled to work after 180 consecutive days, their employment is considered to be ended, and they must receive termination pay if entitled.

    Learn more about temporary layoffs.

  • Recall notices for returning to work

    To request an employee return to work after a layoff, an employer must serve a recall notice to the employee in writing. Employees are not required to be tested for COVID-19 before they return to work.

    If an employee fails to return to work within 7 days of receiving the recall notice, the employer may terminate their employment. The employee is not entitled to termination notice or termination pay in this case.

    From a health and safety perspective, workers may suggest it is unsafe to return to work.

    • Employees have the right to refuse dangerous work – but this usually relates to a specific task, activity or condition and does not normally allow workers to refuse to attend work.
    • Employers must take steps to ensure the safety of their staff and customers, and must follow all public health orders and guidance.

    For detailed information, contact:

  • Job-protected leaves

    Quarantine leave

    Employees are entitled to 14 days of unpaid, job-protected leave if they are required to quarantine due to COVID-19. This leave can be taken more than once.

    Family responsibility leave

    Employees are entitled to unpaid, job-protected leave if they are required to:

    • care for self-isolated family members
    • care for children unable to attend school or child care as a result of Chief Medical Officer of Health orders related to COVID-19

    This leave may be taken for as long as needed to meet family responsibilities. It can be accessed more than once.

    Financial support

    Employment standards rules

    Paid vaccination leave

    All working Albertans can access 3 hours of paid, job-protected leave to get each dose of the vaccine.

  • OHS requirements

    Employers must continue to meet existing occupational health and safety (OHS) requirements.

    OHS questions and concerns can be directed to the:

    OHS Contact Centre online
    Phone: 1-866-415-8690 (in Alberta)
    Phone: 780-415-8690 (in Edmonton)

  • Mask requirements

    Masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces, workplaces, and places of worship as of September 16.

    Employees must mask for all indoor settings, except while alone in work stations.

    For more information on masking, including how to wear and care for your mask, see mask requirements.

Financial supports

  • Critical Worker Benefit

    The Critical Worker Benefit provides a one-time payment of $1,200 to eligible Albertans in recognition of their hard work providing care and critical services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The application period for phase 2 is open to new categories of workers in the social services and private sectors.

    Learn more

  • Alberta Jobs Now program

    Private and non-profit businesses can apply for funding to offset the cost of hiring and training unemployed or underemployed Albertans into new or vacant full-time jobs.

    Employers can get up to:

    • $25,000 for each new hire, or
    • $37,500 for each new employee with a disability

    Workers cannot apply for the program directly, but can let potential employers know they can apply for the Alberta Jobs Now program if they hire you.

    Applications for the first intake closed on July 23, 2021

    Next intake: September 16 to December 31, 2021

    Learn more

  • Paid vaccination leave

    All working Albertans can access 3 hours of paid, job-protected leave to get each dose of the vaccine.

    Learn more

  • Education property tax deferral

    Education property tax rates were frozen at last year’s level – reversing the 3.4% population and inflation increase added in Budget 2020.

    Collection of non-residential education property tax for businesses was deferred for 6 months to September 30, or a deferral of both municipal and education property tax for a shorter time that is of equivalent benefit.

    • Municipalities were expected to set education property tax rates as they normally would, but defer collection.
    • Commercial landlords are encouraged to pass savings on to their tenants through reduced or deferred payments to help employers pay their employees and stay in business.
    • Taxpayers can contact their municipality directly for information on their municipality’s approach to education property tax deferral or to discuss a payment schedule to pay these deferred taxes.

    Learn more

  • Tourism levy abatement

    Hotels and other lodging providers are permitted to keep tourism levy amounts collected between April 1, 2021 and June 30, 2021.

    Learn more

  • WCB premium payment deferrals

    Small, medium and large private sector employers can defer WCB premium payments until 2021.

    • For small and medium businesses, the government will cover 50% of the 2020 premium when it is due in 2021 – saving businesses $350 million.
    • Large employers will have their 2020 WCB premium payments deferred until 2021, at which time their premiums will be due.

    Employers who have already paid WCB premiums in 2020 are eligible for a rebate or credit.

  • Federal government programs

    Businesses can access supports to help with COVID-19-related challenges, including:

    • avoiding layoffs, rehiring employees and creating new jobs
    • accessing financial support, loans and credit
    • applying for supports for self-employed individuals

    Find federal support based on your business needs.

    See list of all federal business support programs.

    Canada United Small Business Relief Fund – Helps small businesses offset the cost of expenses to open safely or adopt digital technologies to move more of their business online.

Additional information and resources

  • Purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE)

    Connect to PPE suppliers using the websites below. The government is not responsible for products or prices offered on these sites.

    Alberta-based businesses that manufacture PPE can find out how to help at Alberta Bits and Pieces.

  • Small business advice

    Talk to a small business strategist at Business Link for one-on-one coaching, advice and information on COVID-19 resources and supports.

    To connect with a Business Link strategist:

    Submit your question online or contact them directly:

    Toll free: 1-800-272-9675 (Canada only)
    TTY: 1-800-457-8466 (For the deaf or hard of hearing)
    Hours: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed weekends and statutory holidays)

  • Mental health resources and support

    The COVID-19 pandemic can have a significant impact on mental health.

    Online resources are available if you need advice on handling stressful situations.

    If you need to talk, call the 24-hour help lines:

    For more information, visit COVID-19 info for Albertans.

  • Travel restrictions and exemptions

    Provincial quarantine rules for returning international travellers have been lifted, but federal travel requirements remain in place. For more information, see COVID-19 travel requirements.

  • What to do if someone at your business tests positive for COVID-19

    Public health officials will contact you to determine what changes and actions may be needed to help ensure the safety of employees and patrons.

    The following measures should be taken to help public health officials in their investigation:

    Contact tracing:

    • Through the contact tracing process conducted by public health officials, the investigator will determine if the case had prolonged contact with other individuals in your business/entity, staff or anyone else at the facility.

    Self-assessment:

    • Business operators, staff members, as well as others potentially exposed to the confirmed or probable COVID-19 case should complete the COVID-19 self-assessment.

    Assessing risk of exposure at a workplace:

    • If a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 (a patron/client or an employee) is detected at a business or entity, the business or entity may be asked to close for a period of time to conduct any necessary environmental cleaning of the space, and to allow contact tracing and the public health investigation to be completed.
    • The decision to close a business/entity or a building would be made by the Zone Medical Officer of Health in consultation with the business operator. If the case has had no prolonged contact with other areas or staff in the building, it is unlikely that a full closure would be required.
  • COVID-19 translated resources

    COVID-19 resources are available in Arabic, 中文, हिंदी, 한국어, ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, Af-Soomaali, Español, Français, Tagalog, Tiếng Việt and Urdu.

    See translated resources

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