On May 27, 2019, Alberta's newly elected United Conservative Party government introduced Bill 2 and approved an Order in Council, making the Employment Standards (Minimum Wage) Amendment Regulation. If passed, Bill 2 will make amendments to Alberta's Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code. Bill 2 reintroduces a number of provisions that were changed or repealed under the NDP government's Bill 17: The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act. The key changes that will impact employers are set out below.

Employment Standards Minimum Wage Regulation

Employers may pay an employee who is under the age of 18 and is a student enrolled in an educational institution (including a post-secondary institution) $13.00 per hour for:

  • Work performed during a school break for the employee; or
  • The first 28 hours in one week when school is in session. An employer must pay the student employee the general minimum wage of $15.00 per hour for any time exceeding 28 hours in one week.

The new minimum wage for students will come into effect as of June 26, 2019. Employers can still choose to pay students more than the minimum wage.

Employment Standards Code Changes

General Holiday Pay

Bill 2 reintroduces the qualifying period for holiday pay. An employee will only be eligible for general holiday pay if the employee has worked for the same employer for 30 workdays or more in the 12 months preceding the general holiday.

The Bill also reintroduces the distinction between regular and irregular workdays in the calculation of general holiday pay. An employer must pay an employee holiday pay as set out below.

  • If the employee does not work on the general holiday
    • If the holiday falls on a day that the employee normally would work but the employee does not work, an employer must pay the employee holiday pay an amount that is at least the average daily wage of the employee.
    • If the holiday falls on a day that the employee normally would not work and the employee does not work on the holiday, the employee is not entitled to holiday pay.
  • If the employee works on the general holiday
    • If a holiday is on a day that would normally have been a workday for the employee and the employee works on the holiday, the employer must either:
      • Pay the employee 1.5 times their regular wage rate for each hour of work; or
      • Provide the employee with one day's holiday on a day that would normally be a workday for the employee and provide holiday pay for that day in an amount that is at least the employee's average daily wage.
    • If a holiday is on a day that the employee would normally not have worked, the employer must pay the employee general holiday pay in an employee at least 1.5 times the employee's regular wage rate.

Overtime

If passed, Bill 2 will re-introduce the pre-Bill 17 overtime agreement provisions, which allow employees to bank overtime as straight time off at a 1:1 ratio. Under the current version of the Code, employees are entitled to a ratio of 1.5 hours off for every overtime hour banked. In effect, Flexible Averaging Agreements will be repealed.

The changes to the Employment Standards Code are set to take effect on September 1, 2019 if Bill 2 is passed.

Labour Relations Code

If Bill 2 is passed, the changes below will have come into force on May 27, 2019:

  • The mandatory secret ballot process for all union certification votes is restored. Further, there will be a return to a 90-day period for unions to provide evidence of employee support for certification. Currently, unions may demonstrate support for certification by showing that at least 40% of employees in the unit are members of the unit or have applied for membership in the 6 months prior to the certification application.
  • The current "marshalling" provisions will be strengthened. These provisions coordinate employment-related complaints (labour relations, human rights, workers compensation, employment standards and privacy complaints) when the complaints involve multiple forums.

The following provision will take effect as of October 1, 2019 if Bill 2 is passed:

  • Bill 2 seeks to establish a program to support and assist employees to better understand and exercise their rights under labour legislation including the Labour Relations Code, the Police Officers Collective Bargaining Act, the Public Education Collective Bargaining Act and the Public Service Employee Relations Act.

At this time, Bill 2 has passed through First and Second Reading. Gowling WLG will continue to monitor the status of Bill 2 and provide updates as to how Bill 2 may impact employers. If you have any questions about this regulation or how it impacts your workplace, please contact a member of the Employment, Labour and Equalities Group.