Alberta has some of the oldest workplace legislation in Canada. The Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code were not significantly updated for almost 30 years. The nature of work and family life has changed a lot in that time.
Following a review of existing laws using input from business, industry, organized labour, non-profits and the general public, proposed changes to the Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code were introduced in Bill 17: The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act. The Act was passed on June 5, 2017 and received Royal Assent on June 7.
The changes will make sure Albertans have the same rights and protections enjoyed by other Canadians, and have fair and family-friendly workplace laws that support a strong economy and help businesses stay competitive. This includes:
- ensuring parents of critically-ill or injured children can take time off to care for their family without fear of losing their job
- allowing Albertans the time they need to care for themselves if they're dealing with a short-term illness or domestic violence, or mourning the loss of a loved one
- lowering the threshold for maternity leave and providing for the extension of parental leave to allow greater flexibility for working families
Workplace legislation review
From March 13 to April 18, 2017, Albertans provided feedback to the Employment Standards and Labour Relations code reviews. More than 7,000 submissions were received. All input was reviewed as part of the development of the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act.
Employment Standards Code review
Close to 5,000 Albertans took an online survey and nearly 400 written submissions were sent in. Consultation sessions were held in Grande Prairie, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Calgary to gather input from a range of stakeholders that included community and social groups, employers and employer groups, labour organizations, academics and municipalities.
Labour Relations Code review
Alberta Labour received 340 written submissions from employers, business associations, organized labour and advocacy groups in a wide array of industries and sectors. The Minister and the department also met with employer stakeholders to get their input. In addition to this direct input, a third-party expert, Mr. Andrew Sims, QC, was hired to assist with the review.
Farm and Ranch legislation review
The government set up six Technical Working Groups in 2016 to review the application of workplace legislation in the agricultural sector. Government has consulted with farmers and ranchers, including family farmers, to develop detailed regulations that reflect the unique aspects of the industry. Regulations in other provinces where similar laws already exist were also reviewed.
The first two Technical Working Groups reviewing employment standards and labour relations provided reports with recommendations to government in early 2017. These recommendations were posted online and public input was sought. The recommendations and feedback received from Albertans was considered as government developed the Act.
The Employment Standards Technical Working Group met twice and the Labour Relations Technical Working Group met five times. Approximately 200 responses to their recommendations were received between March 6 and April 3, 2017.
For more information, see farm and ranch workplace legislation consultations.