Status: Bill 32 introduced July 7
Ministry responsible: Labour and Immigration

Overview

Bill 32, the Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act would support economic recovery, restore balance in the workplace and get Albertans back to work.

If passed, Bill 32 will provide employees and employers with clearer and more transparent rules promoting fairness and productivity, including more clarity about rest periods and temporary layoff notices.

More than 5,000 responses were gathered from Albertans during our employment standards engagement.

Key changes

  • Changes for employees

    Pay and payroll

    • Employees would still get general holiday pay, but simplified rules may change the amount. Average daily wage would not include vacation pay and general holiday pay. It would be the employee’s total wages averaged over the number of days they worked in the:
      • 4 weeks immediately before the general holiday, or
      • 4 weeks ending on the last day of the pay period that occurred just before the general holiday
    • If an employer overpaid an employee, the employee would no longer need to give the employer written permission for them to deduct an overpayment due to a payroll error or for vacation pay paid in advance.

    Termination and layoffs

    • There will be one set of rules for all terminations of 50 or more people in a 4-week period rather than different requirements depending on the number of staff being terminated.
    • Employees would get all of their final pay:
      • 10 consecutive days after the end of the pay period in which they were terminated, or
      • 31 consecutive days after the last day of employment
    • Employees could be laid off for a longer period of time (90 days within a 120 day period) without losing their job.
      • If a layoff was due to COVID-19, separate rules allow employees to be laid off for 180 consecutive days.

    Hours of work

    • More flexible rules for hours of work averaging arrangements would make it easier to set up arrangements, create schedules and calculate overtime.

    Rest periods

    • Employees must get at least 30 minutes of rest every 5 hours for shifts that are longer than 5 hours. The rest period can be within or immediately after the 5 hours of work, or at any time mutually agreed upon by the employer and employee.

    Youth employment

    • 13 and 14-year-olds would be allowed to do more types of jobs without their employer getting a permit first. Types of jobs include light janitorial work in offices, coaching and tutoring. It also includes some jobs in the food service industry if the youth is working with someone 18 or older.
  • Changes for employees in a union

    Remedial certification

    • Legislation will specify when remedial certification can be used, such as when no other remedy is sufficient to counteract the impacts of the employer’s misconduct and the true wishes of employees can’t be determined.

    Discipline

    • Unions would not be able to discipline employees if they take significantly different work from a different employer.

    Hours of work

    • An employer and union could agree to alter employment standards rules for hours of work, notice of work times, days of rest, and overtime hours under hours of work averaging arrangements.

    Collective agreements

    • If employees in the construction sector choose a new union, their old collective agreement would still apply until it expires.
    • Employees and employers could renew a collective agreement before it expires.
      • The Labour Relations Board would oversee this process to make sure an agreement is only renewed early if employees consent.

    Strikes, lockouts and picketing

    • The Labour Relations Board will have additional criteria to determine whether picketing is lawful.
    • An employee’s union will need permission to picket somewhere other than their workplace.
    • If employees are on an illegal strike, they might stop paying union dues if directed by the Labour Relations Board.

    Access to information

    • Unions would need to provide financial statements to their members.

    Union dues

    • Employees will be able to opt-in to pay the portion of union dues that go towards funding political parties and causes. Employees will still be required to pay union dues that are used for core union activities, such as collective bargaining and representing members’ interests.

    Industry-specific changes

    • Nurse practitioners would be included in the Labour Relations Code.
    • More flexible rules for industrial construction and maintenance unions could create more competition in the construction industry.
  • Changes for employers

    Pay and payroll

    • Employers could pay employees their final pay:
      • 10 consecutive days after the end of the pay period in which they were terminated, or
      • 31 consecutive days after the last day of employment
    • If an employer overpaid an employee, the employee would no longer need to give the employer written permission for them to deduct an overpayment due to a payroll error or for vacation pay paid in advance.
    • Employers would not need to include vacation pay and general holiday pay in the average daily wage calculation.
    • Average daily wage would be the employee’s total wages averaged over the number of days they worked in the:
      • 4 weeks immediately before the general holiday, or
      • 4 weeks ending on the last day of the pay period that occurred just before the general holiday

    Termination and layoffs

    • Employers would not need to give group termination notice to employees or unions.
    • Employers could lay employees off for a longer period of time (90 days within a 120 day period).
      • If a layoff was due to COVID-19, separate rules allow employees to be laid off for 180 consecutive days.

    Hours of work

    • Employers could start or change an hours of work averaging arrangement by giving employees 2 weeks’ notice, rather than getting employees’ consent first.
    • Arrangements could have an averaging period of up to 52 weeks.
    • Arrangements would no longer need to have an end date.
    • Employers could negotiate with employees how to handle schedule changes or missed shifts but employees must get 8 hours of rest between shifts if there is a schedule change.
    • Employers do not have to provide daily overtime, unless daily overtime is included as part of the arrangement.
    • Weekly overtime threshold applies, regardless whether daily overtime is included in the arrangement or not.

    Rest periods

    • Employers must provide at least 30 minutes of rest every 5 hours for shifts that are longer than 5 hours. The rest period can be within or immediately after the 5 hours of work, or at any time mutually agreed upon by the employer and employee.

    Youth employment

    • Employers could more easily hire 13 and 14-year-olds for certain types of jobs because they will not need to get a permit first. Types of jobs include light janitorial work in offices, coaching and tutoring. It also includes some jobs in the food services industry if the youth is working with someone 18 or older.

    Penalties

    • If employers break rules, they would still get a penalty, but the amount could be adjusted on a case-by-case basis and employers will have more time to make the payment.

    Variances and exemptions

    • More flexible rules would make it easier and quicker for employers to get approval for, and renew a variance or exemption.
  • Changes for employers with employees in a union

    Union certification and revocation timelines

    • Specific timelines for certification and revocation processes will be removed to reduce red tape.
    • However, the applications should be processed as soon as possible, and no later than 6 months after the date of application. The 6-month cap may possibly be extended if there is an exceptional circumstance.

    Remedial certification

    • Legislation will specify when remedial certification can be used, such as when no other remedy is sufficient to counteract the impacts of the employer’s misconduct and the true wishes of employees can’t be determined.

    Hours of work

    • Employers and unions could agree to alter employment standards rules for hours of work, notice of work times, days of rest, and overtime hours under hours of work averaging arrangements.

    Collective agreements

    • If employees in the construction sector choose a new union, the existing collective agreement would still apply until it expires.
    • Employers and unions could renew a collective agreement before it expires if employees give their consent.

    Strikes, lockouts and picketing

    • Employers could ask for Labour Relations Board orders on illegal strikes and picketing to be filed with the courts.
    • Employers might have to continue employees’ payment of union dues during an illegal lockout.
    • Employers may have to suspend employees’ payment of union dues during an illegal strike.

    Complaints (reverse onus)

    • If a complaint is made against an employer, the employer would be responsible for proving they did nothing wrong only when the complaint is about an employee being unfairly terminated.

    Construction sector changes

    • Employers may have less administrative work related to unionized employees in industrial construction and maintenance.
      • Industrial unions would be able to form “all employee units” by representing all employees who work for the same employer, regardless of their trade.
      • Building trades unions would continue to certify their members on a craft-by-craft basis.
      • International unions and their locals would still follow existing rules in provincial collective agreements.
    • Employers will have more clarity and certainty on major construction projects, encouraging investment.
      • Major construction projects could be approved by a minister instead of Cabinet.
      • The minister would have 120 days to respond to a major project application, with the possibility of extending the timeline.
      • Construction project owners could also be principal contractors when negotiating a major project agreement and these projects can be renegotiated.
      • Construction projects could have more than one project agreement.
      • Principal contractors could delegate authority for bargaining, with consent from the Minister of Labour and Immigration.
      • Maintenance workers are included in major projects, and wouldn’t have the right to strike and lockout.
      • Arbitration would be used to help parties reach and renegotiate collective agreements.

Next Steps

If passed, changes in Bill 32 would take effect in stages:

  • Most changes to the Labour Relations Code would take effect upon Bill 32 receiving royal assent, except for the following changes that would take effect upon proclamation:
    • access to union financial statements/opt-in for union dues
    • early renewal of collective agreements
    • rules for secondary picketing
    • “all-employee” units in the construction sector
    • building trades of Alberta project agreements
    • board standard of review (grievance arbitrator decisions)
    • including nurse practitioners in the Labour Relations Code
  • Post-Secondary arbitration changes will take effect at first reading.
  • Changes in the Employment Standards Code would take effect November 1, except for the following changes which will take effect August 15:
    • changes to the requirements around group termination notice
    • length of temporary layoffs
    • flexible rules to apply for variances

Fact sheets

For more information on proposed changes for employers, employees and red tape reduction, see:

News