Changes due to COVID-19
Temporary workplace rules are now in place to help employers and employees manage rapidly changing conditions. These changes will be in place as long as government determines they are no longer needed and the public health emergency order remains.
- creating a job-protected leave for employees caring for children affected by school and daycare closures or ill or self-isolated family members due to COVID-19
- The 90-day employment requirement is waived.
- The leave length is flexible and linked to guidance from the Chief Medical Officer.
- A medical note is not required.
- Regular personal and family responsibility leave rules continue to apply for all other circumstances.
- removing the 24-hour written notice requirement for shift changes
- removing the requirement for 2 weeks notice for changes to work schedules for those under an averaging agreement
- removing the employer requirement to provide group termination notice to employees and unions when 50 or more employees are being terminated
- Individual termination entitlements remain in effect.
- Employers must still give group termination notices to the Minister of Labour and Immigration as soon as is practical.
- increasing the maximum time for temporary layoffs from 60 days to 120 days
- This change is retroactive for temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 that occurred on or after March 17
- streamlining approvals for modifying employment standards (variances and exemptions) related to COVID-19
For more information, visit COVID-19 support for employers and employees.
Certain industries and occupations have special rules and exceptions. See Exceptions for special industries for more information.
- An employee may work a maximum of 12-hours a day unless an exception occurs.
- Employees are entitled to at least 30 minutes of rest (break) during every 5-hour work period. If an employer and an employee agree, the break may be taken in 2 periods of at least 15 minutes.
- Employees are entitled to at least one day of rest each work week.
Daily hours of work
An employee’s work must be confined within a period of 12 consecutive hours per day, unless one of the following occurs:
- an accident occurs or urgent work is required
- other unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances
- a variance authorizes longer hours
Notice of work times
Employers must notify their employees of the time that work starts and ends. The employer can do this by posting notices where they can be seen by employees, or by other reasonable methods.
Rest between shifts
An employee must not be required to change from one shift to another without at least 24 hours’ written notice and at least 8 hours’ rest between shifts.
Daily rest periods (breaks)
An employee is entitled to at least 30 minutes of rest–paid or unpaid–in each shift that is 5 consecutive hours of work, unless one of the following occurs:
- an accident occurs or urgent work is required
- other unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances
- different break arrangements have been made through a collective agreement, or
- it’s not reasonable for the employee to take a rest period; if the employee is unable to take their break, then it must be paid
While this is the minimum standard, employers may provide longer daily rest periods.
Paid vs. unpaid breaks
Breaks can be paid or unpaid at the employer’s discretion. However, if the employer places restrictions on an employee’s activities during a break, such as prohibiting the employee from leaving the premises, the break must be paid.
Length of shifts
Less than 5 hours
- employer does not have to provide a break
5 hours or longer
- employer must provide at least 30 minutes of break every 5 hours
- the 30 minutes of break can be taken in one unbroken period
- if the employee and employer agree, the 30 minute break can also be taken in two 15-minute periods
Employees are entitled to at least 1 day of rest each work week.
Work weeks can be combined so the employee receives the following days of rest:
- 2 consecutive days of rest in each period of 2 consecutive work weeks
- 3 consecutive days of rest in each period of 3 consecutive work weeks
- 4 consecutive days of rest in each period of 4 consecutive work weeks
Every employer must allow each employee at least 4 consecutive days of rest after each period of 24 consecutive work days.
Employers are only required to pay employees for travel time that’s considered work.
When travel time is work
Any travel time that occurs after the employee starts to provide services is recorded as work hours.
If a collective agreement is in place, provisions in the agreement may determine how travel time is managed.
If not covered by a collective agreement, travel time is considered work when an employee, whether driver or passenger:
- goes from the employer's business or a place designated by the employer to a work site; or
- goes from one job site to another job site; or
- is directed to pick up materials or perform other tasks on the way to work or home
Rate of pay
Travel time hours may be paid out at a different rate of pay, as long as the employee is informed ahead of time and the rate is at least minimum wage.
When travel time is not work
In general, home-to-work and work-to-home travel isn’t considered time spent working. If the employer chooses to pay the employee for this travel time, the payment would not generally be considered wages.
Travel time is not considered work when employees are given the choice, or an agreement between the employer and employee or union is in place, to:
- provide their own transportation to or from the work location, or
- report to a certain point from which the employee may access transportation provided by the employer
Employees attending a compulsory meeting or scheduled training session
If the meeting or training occurs on an employee’s regularly scheduled day off, the employee must be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime if applicable. If the meeting or training is less than 3 hours in length, the 3-hour minimum rule applies.
Please also note:
- if an employee returns to work to attend the meeting or training after completing their shift, the employee must be paid the wages agreed to or overtime if applicable, whichever is greater
- the rate of pay for meetings or training cannot be less than the minimum wage
- the pay received by the employee must equal or exceed the amount described in the section on minimum compensation for short periods of work
- if the meeting or training isn’t compulsory but is directly related to the employee’s work, and the employee attends, they must be paid the wages agreed to, and overtime if applicable; the employee must receive at least the minimum compensation as described above
Employees ‘on call’ or ‘on standby’ at home
- If an employee isn’t required to perform work at home, no payment is required; being ‘on call’ or ‘on standby’ is not considered work.
- If an employee is required to work at home, the employee must be paid for hours worked at their regular rate of pay, plus applicable overtime, for the actual time worked.
- If the employee is required to leave home and report to the worksite, the minimum compensation for short periods of work as previously described is applicable once the employee reports to work.
Employees asked to work for short periods
Unless an employer has a variance, the following minimum standards apply:
Employees must be paid for at least 3 hours of pay at the minimum wage each time they’re required to report to work, or come to work for short periods. This 3-hour minimum doesn’t apply if the employee isn’t available to work the full 3 hours.
If an employee works for fewer than 3 consecutive hours, the employer must pay wages that are at least equal to 3 hours at the minimum wage.
If an employee’s regular wage is greater than the minimum wage, the employer may pay them for less than 3 hours of work at this higher rate, as long as the total is higher than 3 hours at minimum wage.
The following employees must be paid minimum compensation for at least 2 hours at not less than minimum wage (or Job Creation Student Wage for students under 18):
- school bus drivers
- part-time employees of non-profit recreation or athletic programs run by a municipality, Métis Settlement or community service organization
- home care employees
- 13, 14 and 15 year olds who work on a school day
Employees working split shifts
If an employee is required to work a split shift and there’s more than a 1-hour break between the 2 segments of the shift, the employee must be paid the minimum compensation required for each segment of their shift.
See Youth employment for more information.
The following jobs are exempt from the minimum standards for hours of work and rest:
- managers, supervisors and those employed in a confidential capacity
- farm and ranch workers exempt from daily and weekly hours of work and rest; monthly days of rest requirements apply
- municipal police service members
- See the Police Act
- lookout observers
- Read more about lookout observers
- post-secondary academic staff
- See the Post-Secondary Learning Act
- professionals, including agrologists, architects, certified or chartered accountants, chiropractors, dentists, denturists, engineers, geoscientists, information systems professionals, lawyers, optometrists, podiatrists, psychologists and veterinarians
- salespersons of automobiles, trucks, buses, farm machinery, road construction equipment, heavy duty equipment, manufactured homes or residential homes
- salespersons who solicit orders, principally outside of the employer’s place of business, who are fully or partly paid by commission; this doesn’t apply to route salespersons.
- Read more about salespersons
- licensed salespersons of real estate and securities
- licensed insurance salespersons who are paid entirely by commission income
- salespersons who are at least 16 years old and are engaged in direct selling for licensed direct sellers.
- Read more about direct sellers
- licensed land agents
- extras in a film or video production
- counsellors or instructors at a non-profit educational or recreational camp for children, handicapped individuals, or religious groups
- domestic employees (these employees are exempt only from sections 16 and 17 of the Code concerning hours of work and notice of work times, but not from rest periods).
- Read more about domestic employees
- residential and homecare caregivers; employees are exempt only from section 16 of the Code concerning hours of work, but not from rest periods.
- Read more about caregivers
How the law applies
Part 2, Division 3 of the Employment Standards Code makes provisions for employees’ hours of work, rests periods, days of rest and notice of work times.
Disclaimer: In the event of any discrepancy between this information and Alberta Employment Standards legislation, the legislation is considered correct.