Bill 32: Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act

On July 29th, 2020, the Government of Alberta passed Bill 32: Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act, 2020 (the “Act”). The Act not only amends several provisions in both Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code but also creates new workplace rules in each.

Effective Dates:

  • Most changes to the Labour Relations Code took effect on July 29th with the exception of a few changes that will take place upon proclamation.
  • Most changes to the Employment Standards Code will take effect on November 1, 2020 however, some changes have already taken effect as of August 15th.

Given the extensive changes to both Codes, the likelihood is that your business or organization will be affected. The amendments range from changing precise wording that alters how processes are currently done to the addition and deletion of clauses that effectively expand or restrict what an employer’s rights are. The following discussion will focus on some key changes being made specifically to the Employment Standards Code. More details on both Codes can be found on the Government of Alberta's website.

What Are Some of the Key Changes?

1. Averaging Agreements – Employers are no longer required to obtain employee consent to create averaging agreements. Now the employer may require or permit employees to work an averaging arrangement but must provide at least 2 weeks’ written notice to the employee.

  • Also, the applicable time period for determining an employee’s entitlement to overtime pay or time off with pay in an averaging agreement has changed from one to 12 weeks to one to 52 weeks.

 2. Layoffs and Terminations – The notice requirements for employee layoffs and the deemed termination periods have changed.

  • The specific requirements for timing of layoff notices has been removed.
  • Deemed termination periods have been increased from 60 days. Now, an employee being laid off for a total of 90 days within a 120-day period is deemed terminated.
  • However, for an employee laid off for COVID-19 reasons, the potential deemed termination is extended to a layoff period lasting more than 180 consecutive days.
3. Termination Pay – Payment of final earnings by employers are no longer dependent on the type of termination (with or without notice). Now:

  • The employer must either pay within 10 consecutive days after the end of the pay period in which the termination of employment occurred, OR
  • 31 consecutive days after the last day of employment.

4. Group Terminations – There are no longer different rules depending on the number of employees being terminated within a specific time frame. Now, there is one set of rules for all terminations of 50 people or more that happens within a 4-week period.

Other amendments include changes to deductions from earnings, more flexible rest periods, calculations for general holiday pay, restrictions around youth jobs, and more flexibility for administrative penalties.

We Are Here to Help

If you have any questions about the amendments or would like a more detailed discussion of how these changes may affect your business or organization, please feel free to contact our Employment Services Practice Group. Our Employment team can work with you to help ensure that your procedures are aligned with these new standards.

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Emery Jamieson LLP