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 Minister of Labour and Immigration for a variance or exemption to any minimum standard.
  • The request must be made in writing and submitted directly to the Minister’s office.
  • Ministerial variances and exemptions don’t have a maximum term and can be renewed. The Minister may issue an order to vary or exempt at their discretion.
  • The Minister may amend or revoke an order at any time.

How to apply for a Ministerial Order

An employer, a group of employers or an employer association may write to the Minister to request an order to vary or exempt any provision under the Employment Standards Code or Regulation. Ministerial variances or exemptions are exceptional, and certain criteria must be met and outlined in the application.

An application to the Minister must:

  • Be submitted to the Minister in writing.
  • Include the name of the employer, employer group or association, address and telephone number.
  • Identify the legal names of the employers to which the order would apply, as reflected in the corporate registry if applicable, the operating names if different, and the corresponding WCB industry code and account numbers.
  • 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, as the case may be.
  • Specify the provisions of the Code or Regulation for which the variance or exemption is requested
  • Explain the rationale for the request, including factors beyond the control of the applicant group that necessitate the proposed variance or exemption.

Reflect the level of support for the proposed variation or exemption by the affected employees or their bargaining agent, such as employee surveys or letters from bargaining agents.

Submit an application to the Minister

Before making an order to vary or exempt the application of one or more of the provisions of the Code or Regulation, the Minister shall consider:

  • the employment standards and occupational health and safety compliance history of the employer members of the applicant group or association
  • the rationale for the request
  • whether there is employee support for the request

After an application is reviewed

A Ministerial Order to vary or exempt will include terms, conditions and any information required by the Regulation. The Minister will determine on a case-by-case basis how to notify affected employers and employees.

The Minister may amend or revoke the order at any time.

Publication of variances

See a current list of Ministerial Orders at the Registry of employment standards Ministerial Orders to vary or exempt.

How the law applies

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

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


Questions about Ministerial Order to vary or exempt can be emailed to:

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