Employment standards webinar

Learn how the Employment Standards Code applies to farms and ranches during these one-hour information webinars. Register here.


Employment standards legislation sets minimum standards for hours of work, overtime, overtime pay, holidays and general holiday pay, vacations, vacation pay, minimum wage and employees under the age of 18.

Employment standards changes that apply to the agricultural sector came into effect Jan 1, 2018.

Farmers and ranchers were consulted through technical working groups.

Who’s affected

Employment standards will only apply to farms and ranches with waged, non-family employees.

Rules do not apply to:

  • farm owners
  • family members of farm owners
  • non-employee relatives, friends and neighbours helping out
  • children doing chores or participating in activities such as 4-H or helping neighbours and friends
  • participating in recreational activities such as hunting on farmland

Exemptions to employment standards

The following special rules apply to waged, non-family workers:

  • Hours of work and overtime – farms and ranches are not subject to the current standards on hours of work and overtime due to the extended working hours required during harvest and seeding.
  • General holiday pay – will be based on 4.2% of the previous 4 weeks’ wages, vacation pay, and general holiday pay.
  • Rest periods – employees are entitled to 4 days of rest for every 28 days of work. Selection of the days of rest is at the employers discretion if the employer and employee can’t agree.

Employment standards

The following rules apply to waged, non-family workers:

  • Minimum wage
    • $15 per hour
    • $13 per hour for students under 18 years of age
  • Unpaid, job-protected leaves after 90 days of work
    • maternity leave (16 weeks)
    • parental leave (37 weeks)
    • reservist leave (as needed)
    • compassionate care leave (27 weeks)
    • bereavement leave (3 days)
    • domestic violence leave (10 days)
    • citizenship ceremony leave (half day)
    • critical illness of a child leave (36 weeks)
    • long-term illness and injury leave (16 weeks)
    • personal and family responsibility leave (5 days)
    • death or disappearance of a child leave (52 weeks/104 weeks)
  • Vacations and vacation pay
    • 2 weeks of vacation after one year employment
    • 3 weeks of vacation after 5 years
    • 4% vacation pay up to 5 years of employment
    • 6% vacation pay after 5 years

Family members

Employment standards do not apply to family members of the owner or owner's spouse, common-law partner or adult-interdependent partner. Owner means a shareholder, sole proprietor or partner.

All of the following are considered family members:

  • children, step-children
  • parent, step-parent
  • sibling, half-sibling, step-sibling
  • grandparent, step-grandparent
  • aunt, uncle, step-aunt or uncle
  • niece, nephew
  • first cousin

Youth workers

Alberta’s youth employment rules do not apply to farms and ranches.

Greenhouses, nurseries, mushroom and sod farms

These operations are not considered farms under the Employment Standards Code, so regular rules apply.

We will consult with the industry to determine if special rules are required.


For information on farm and ranch legislation:

Toll-free: 1-877-427-3731
Edmonton area: 780-427-3731
Email: farmandranch@gov.ab.ca

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