Alberta: Review of 30-Year-Old Employment Code Begun

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By Jeremy Hainsworth

Alberta is reviewing its Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code because the changed nature of work and family life since the regulations were introduced 30 years ago necessitates their updating, Minister of Labour Christina Gray said April 5.

“Our government believes fair and family-friendly workplace laws support a strong economy and help ensure good jobs for Albertans,” Gray said in a statement to Bloomberg BNA. “Alberta’s workplaces have changed a lot in the past 30 years, and we need to ensure our laws are kept up-to-date with today’s modern workplaces.”

The Employment Standards Code and regulations establish minimum standards for all employment relationships under provincial jurisdiction and apply to the majority of provincial workers in Alberta. The code provides Albertans with rights and protections through standards on hours of work, overtime, general holidays, special leave, vacation and more.

A review survey on employment standards is seeking feedback on:

  •  maternity, parental and compassionate care leave;
  •  leave for the care of critically ill children;
  •  other job-protected leave in relation to the federal Employment Insurance program and
  •  better enforcement and administration

The Labour Relations Code is the main piece of legislation that applies to union-management relationships. Among considerations for the Labour Code review are:

  •  mandating a Rand formula (where the payment of trade union dues is mandatory regardless of the worker's union status) in collective agreements;
  •  assessing processes used to let employees exercise constitutional rights to choose, change or cancel union representation;
  •  making options available for dispute resolution in intractable disputes such as unresolved first contracts, proven unfair labor practices or failure to maintain essential services that may lead to public emergencies;
  •  possibly broadening the Alberta Labour Relations Board’s mandate to adjudicate a wider range of workplace disputes and
  •  improving the Alberta Labour Relations Board’s powers, procedures and remedial options with a view to more timely dispute resolution, flexibility in the use of mediation and available remedies reflective of labor relations realities.

Feedback on proposed changes is due April 18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hainsworth in Vancouver at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at

For More Information

More information on the Employment Standards Code review is available here , on the Labour Relations Code review here.

For more information on Alberta HR law and regulation, see the Alberta primer.

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