Farm and ranch employment standards exceptions

Employment standards changes based on consultations with farmers and ranchers come into effect on January 1, 2018.

The legislation on this page comes into effect on January 1, 2018

For information on Employment Standards legislation that is in force until December 31, 2017, go to http://work.alberta.ca/employment-standards.html

Additional information regarding the application of rules for farm and ranch employees will be available by January 1, 2018.

Basic rules

  • The Employment Standards Code will apply only to farms and ranches with paid employees who are not the owner or related to the owner.   Workers who are family members of the owner will be exempt from the Code, including standards that previously applied.
  • The rules about minimum wage, payment of wages, record-keeping (pay stubs), termination notice and pay, job-protected leaves and administration and enforcement apply to all non-family, waged employees on farms and ranches.
  • Employees working in greenhouses, mushroom farms, nurseries or sod farms are not considered “farm and ranch” employees and are covered by all employment standards.

Who is exempt from the employment standards rules?

The following are exempt from the rules in the Employment Standards Code:

  • Unpaid farm and ranch workers, such as relatives, friends and neighbours helping out.
  • The owner and family members of the owner. Owner means a shareholder, sole proprietor or partner.

Who’s considered a family member?

All of the following are considered family members of the owner and owner’s spouse (married, common-law partner or adult-interdependent partner):

  • spouse (married), common-law partner, or adult-interdependent partner
  • children, step-children, their spouse
  • parent, step-parent, their spouse
  • sibling, half-sibling, step-sibling, their spouse
  • grandparent, step-grandparent, their spouse
  • aunt, uncle, step-aunt or step-uncle, their spouse
  • niece, nephew, their spouse
  • first cousin, their spouse

Youth workers on farms and ranches

There are special rules for the employment of youth to protect their well-being and their education, but children doing chores on the farm or helping out around the home are not considered to be in an employment relationship or performing “work”.

Youth employment rules 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.

A list is currently being developed of allowable ‘light work’  for youth under the age of 16, as well ‘hazardous work’  that youth 16 and 17 years of age will only be allowed to do with a variance, proper training and supervision. These rules about allowable work will apply to youth workers on farms and ranches just as they apply in other industries.

Additional information regarding what is considered to be light work will be available by January 1, 2018.

Additional information regarding what is considered hazardous work will be available by January 1, 2018.

Non-family, waged employees

Employment standards rules apply to farming and ranching employees who receive wages and are not family members. These non-family, waged employees:

  • are exempt from rules around daily and weekly hours of work and rest
  • must be given four days off every 28 days
  • are exempt from rules around breaks during shifts
  • are exempt from overtime requirements
  • are entitled to rules regarding minimum wage
  • are entitled to job-protected leaves
  • have their vacation pay calculated based on their total wages
  • must be given holidays and holiday pay

All non-family, waged employees on farms and ranches are subject to and protected by the normal rules about payment of wages, record-keeping (pay stubs), termination notice and pay and administration and enforcement.

Rest periods

Employers must provide employees with at least 4 days of rest in each period of 28 consecutive days.

Vacation pay

Employees are entitled to vacation pay calculated on their wages. The calculation of vacation pay is the same as in other industries.

See Vacations and vacation pay for more information.

General holiday pay

General holiday pay varies depending on whether the employee works on the holiday or not.

Not working on a general holiday

If an employee does not work on a general holiday, the employer must:

  • pay the employee general holiday pay of an amount that is at least 4.2% of the employee’s wages, vacation pay and general holiday pay earned in the 4 weeks immediately preceding the general holiday

Working on a general holiday

If an employee works on a general holiday, the employer must:

  • pay an amount that is at least equal to the employee’s wage rate for each hour of work on the general holiday,
  • pay additional general holiday pay for the day of an amount this is at least 4.2% of the employee’s wages, vacation pay and general holiday pay earned in the 4 weeks immediately preceding the general holiday, and
  • provide one day’s holiday on a day that would normally be a work day for the employee, to be taken within 30 days of the general holiday or at a later time agreed to, in writing, by the employer and employee

See General holidays for more information.

How the law applies

Part 1, section 2.1 of the Employment Standards Code (Code) sets out the exemptions to the rules for farm and ranch employees.

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