Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act, 2020
On July 7, 2020, The Government of Alberta passed Restoring balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act, 2020 which amends various provisions under the Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code of Alberta. Bill 32 (Act) will support economic recovery, restore balance in the workplace, and get Albertans back to work. The proposed changes shall take effect on November 1, 2020. Key amendments brought through the Bill are:
Hours of Work – Averaging Arrangements
“Averaging agreements” have now been replaced with “Averaging Arrangements” under the Employment Standards Code. Employers will now be able to bring changes to the averaging arrangement by providing two weeks’ notice to employees. The averaging period will be increased from 12 weeks to 52 weeks and employers will no longer be required to attain the employee’s consent before amending the arrangement. The averaging arrangements are also not required to have an end date.
The Bill proposes flexibility in the calculation of overtime and cases where daily overtime is applicable. Overtime is calculated on the greater of weekly or daily overtime hours when daily overtime is included. Averaging period overtime must be paid to the employee no later than 10 days after the pay period that the averaging period ends, which may be as long as 52 weeks, as determined by the employers.
Currently, employees are eligible for at least 30 minutes paid or unpaid break within every 5 consecutive hours of work.
Bill 32 proposes to provide meal break either within or immediately following the first 5 hours of a shift. Another addition will be to provide a second rest period if the employee is working a 10 hour or longer shift. Employers and employees can also enter into an agreement to break 30 minutes break into two 15 minutes break periods.
General Holiday Pay – Average Daily Wage (ADW)
Currently, Average daily wage means 5% of an employee’s wages vacation pay and general holiday pay earned in the 4 weeks immediately preceding a general holiday.
Under the proposed amendment to the Code, employers can calculate “Average Daily Wage” as the total wages averaged over the number of days worked in the 4 weeks before a general holiday or the 4 weeks ending on the last day of the pay period immediately before the general holiday. Vacation pay and general holiday pay will no longer be part of the ADW calculation.
Vacation Time Accumulation
For greater certainty it has been provided in the Bill, the time period during which an employee was on some other job-protected leave shall also be taken into consideration when calculating employee’s year of employment for the purpose of annual vacation entitlement.
Bill 32 proposes changes under which the employers and employees will be provided more flexibility in terms of setting up work schedules beyond standard working hours of work, a notice of work times, days of rest, breaks, and overtime hours.