Workplace guidance for Alberta’s relaunch

As Alberta gradually reopens businesses, guidance and resources are available to help workplaces develop and implement policies and procedures to address COVID-19 and keep themselves and their customers safe. This guidance applies to all businesses that are currently open, and those planning to open in the future.

Overview

Due to COVID-19, new workplace rules were introduced beginning on March 17, 2020. Temporary rules have evolved since the public health emergency order was originally introduced. You are encouraged to check back often for the most up-to-date information.

Employment standards

Job-protected leave for Albertans impacted by COVID-19

  • COVID-19 leave allows employees to take 14 days of job-protected leave if they are required to self-isolate.
  • Extended personal and family responsibility leave allows employees who are caring for a child affected by school or daycare closures or a family member who is required to self-isolate to take job-protected leave.
  • Employees who are impacted by COVID-19 may qualify for other available job-protected leaves.

Modified notice requirements

Employers must provide as much notice as reasonable and possible in the circumstances.

The following requirements are removed:

  • the 24-hour written notice requirement for shift changes
  • the requirement for 2 weeks’ notice for changes to work schedules for those under an averaging agreement
  • the requirement for employers to provide group termination notice to employees and unions when 50 or more employees are being terminated

Temporary layoffs

The maximum time for temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 that occurred on or after June 18, 2020, or were underway as of June 18, 2020, is 180 consecutive days.

For temporary layoffs that occurred for reasons other than COVID-19, the following rules apply:

  • for layoffs that started before March 17, regular rules apply (maximum 60 days in total in a 120-day period)
  • for layoffs that started between March 17 and June 17, the maximum layoff duration is 120 consecutive days
  • for layoffs that occurred on or after June 18, regular rules apply (maximum 60 days in total in a 120-day period)

Employment standards variances and exemptions

Applications for variances due to COVID-19 have priority.

Employers, employer groups and associations may apply for a Director’s Variance or a Ministerial Order.

Vacation pay, leave or banked overtime

Employees can request to use their vacation pay or banked overtime, but employers are not required to grant the request. Provincial employment rules only require employers to provide vacation pay and vacation leave within a year of it being earned, or banked overtime within 6 months of it being earned.

Employers can request employees voluntarily take vacation leave or they may require an employee to use their vacation time by providing two weeks written notice of when the vacation will start. Employers can request employees voluntarily use their banked overtime but cannot force them to do so.

Termination of employment

Employees may not be terminated or temporarily laid off for requesting a protected leave or being on the leave.

  • An exception to this is if the employer is temporarily suspending operations, which may result in a temporary layoff, or permanently ceasing operations which would result in termination.
  • If circumstances beyond the employer’s control make employment impossible, employers may terminate employees without termination notice.

Employment Insurance benefits

Employees may consider applying for federal Employment Insurance benefits.

  • This allows up to 15 weeks of assistance if a person cannot work due to medical reasons such as self-isolation or self-quarantine.
  • The federal government waived the one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance benefits.

Occupational health and safety (OHS)

The OHS Resource Portal has information for employers, supervisors and workers to help keep workplaces healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

OHS proactive inspections are focusing on COVID-19 requirements, including directives by the chief medical officer of health.

Workers Compensation Board (WCB)

Employers and workers can use the following resources to learn more about how COVID-19 affects WCB claims: