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 is now in effect
For information on Employment Standards legislation that was in force until December 31, 2017, go to https://work.alberta.ca/employment-standards-2017.html
Changes that affect farms and ranches come into effect on January 1, 2018 except for youth employment changes.
- 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
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 within 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
- are entitled to termination pay and notice in most cases
- must be given holiday benefits
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) and administration and enforcement of employment standards.
Employers must provide employees with at least 4 days of rest within every 28 days.
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 for each hour or work on the general holiday and either:
- 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, and pay the employee an amount that is at least equal to 4.2% of their wages, vacation pay and general holiday pay earned in the 4 weeks immediately preceding the general holiday, or
- pay additional general holiday pay for the day 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
See General holidays for more information.
Youth workers on farms and ranches
The legislation below regarding youth is not in effect.
Alberta Labour is working with employers, youth and caregivers to ensure these standards are implemented effectively.
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.
Employees 12 years of age and under
- May only be employed in an artistic endeavour.
- Can only be employed under the conditions of a permit issued by the Director of Employment Standards to the employer.
- Hours of work restrictions will be determined during the approval process.
- If school is in session, the employee can’t work later than 9:00 pm on a weeknight and 11:00 pm if the next day is a weekend day
Employees 13 to 15 years of age
May be employed in:
- Any job that is deemed to be light work.
- An artistic endeavour.
- Any other type of work authorized under a permit issued by the Director of Employment Standards that is not considered hazardous work (the permit application must include the consent of a parent, guardian or other person who has the lawful care, custody or control of the person seeking employment).
- Employees between 13 and 15 years of age can’t be employed during the employee’s school hours unless they are enrolled in an off-campus educational program.
- Youth 15 years of age and under can’t work between 12:01 am and 6:00 am
Employees 16 to 17 years of age
Employees who are 16 or 17 years of age will be eligible to work in all types of work except hazardous work unless authorized under a permit issued by the Director of Employment Standards.
Youth 12 years of age and under are only allowed to work jobs that are considered artistic endeavours.
An artistic endeavour means work in:
- recorded entertainment
- film, radio, video or television
- television and radio commercials
- voice recordings for video and computer gaming
- live performances
- musical performances
Hazardous work will be defined in reference to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation.
- Hazardous work is prohibited for any person aged 15 years or under
- Hazardous work is permitted for those between 16 and 17 years of age only under the following conditions:
- the employer applies for and receives a permit from Employment Standards, which will outline the conditions of employment
- the permit application includes the consent of a parent, guardian or other person that has the lawful care, custody or control of the individual seeking employment
- the health, safety and well-being of the individual are protected
- the individual is supervised by a responsible adult while the work is being performed and adequately trained in advance
How the law applies
Part 1, section 2.1 of the Employment Standards Code and section 43.8-43.84 of the Regulation (Code) sets out the exceptions 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.