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Bill to modernize Alberta’s workplace legislation

Proposed amendments to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code would support family-friendly workplaces and bring Alberta’s standards into alignment with the rest of Canada.

Proposed changes to Alberta's workplace legislation

Lethbridge mom Amanda Jenson was fired from her job because she needed to care for her son who has leukemia.

If passed, the Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act, would ensure Alberta has modern and fair labour laws that protect the rights of Albertans and meet the needs of today’s workplaces.

“All Albertans deserve to be treated fairly at work. Modern and balanced workplace laws protect the rights of Albertans, support their families and help businesses stay competitive. Updates and improvements to Alberta’s labour legislation are long overdue. The proposed changes ensure Albertans have the same rights as other Canadians while also supporting a strong economy. They respect the important balance of our labour relations system and will make our standards more family-friendly.”

Christina Gray, Minister of Labour

“I listened carefully to the ideas and perspectives of both employers and employee groups during the course of this review. Drawing on my years of professional experience in this area, I was pleased to present the government with advice and workable options to modernize Alberta’s labour relations system and bring it into alignment with the Canadian mainstream.”

Andrew Sims, QC, labour relations expert

“I was fired from my job after I requested time off to care for my seven-year-old son when he was diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t qualify for job-protected leave and it has made this difficult time much harder for me and my family. I want to thank the Government of Alberta for introducing changes that will help ensure this doesn’t happen to any other parent in Alberta.”

Amanda Jensen, Lethbridge mom

If passed, the amendments would:

  • Improve and align maternity leave and compassionate care leave with federal policies:
    • Maternity leave would be extended by one week to 16 weeks.
    • Compassionate care leave would be extended from eight weeks to 27 weeks.
    • **Job protection for parental leave remains at 37 weeks, but may be increased in the future to align with proposed federal Employment Insurance benefits.**
  • Guarantee job protection for new unpaid leaves, including:
  • Long-term Illness and Injury Leave (16 weeks)
  • Personal and Family Responsibility Leave (five days)
  • Bereavement Leave (three days)
  • Domestic Violence Leave (10 days)
  • Citizenship Ceremony Leave (half-day)
  • Critical Illness of a Child Leave (36 weeks)
  • Death or Disappearance of a Child (52 weeks when a child disappeared as a result of a crime, or up to 104 weeks when a child died as a result of a crime)
  • Set the eligibility period for all job-protected leaves at 90 days of employment.
  • Remove a provision that allowed employers to apply for a permit to pay persons with disabilities less than minimum wage.
  • Raise the minimum age of work to 13 in accordance with the International Labour Organization’s Convention 138 on youth employment.
  • Modernize existing standards such as overtime, vacation pay and termination notice.
  • Introduce stronger enforcement, including administrative penalties when warranted, for contraventions of the Employment Standards Code.
  • Introduce access to first contract arbitration to assist parties in successful bargaining and improved dispute resolution methods under the Labour Relations Code.
  • Simplify union certification and decertification processes.
  • Expand essential services to continuing care operations.
  • Enhance the rights of waged, non-family farm and ranch workers while protecting the family-farm way of life.

The proposed changes are the result of previous government reviews as well as broad consultations with Albertans, employers, business organizations, labour organizations, municipalities, academics, and advocacy groups. More than 7,000 submissions were received.

Following recommendations from two technical working groups studying employment standards and labour relations legislation for farms and ranches, the bill also includes amendments that would apply some employment standards and labour relations provisions to waged, non-family workers in Alberta’s agricultural sector.

The proposed changes would have no effect on youth activities such as 4-H, casual work or branding parties and would ensure friends and neighbours can continue helping each other as they have done for generations.

**Editor's Note: Provisions for parental leave have been clarified based on expected changes to the federal Employment Insurance program.


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