Alberta changing rules for employees and employers during the pandemic

Apr 7 2020, 10:39 am

The Province of Alberta has announced changes to some of its labour standards in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister of Labour and Immigration Jason Copping introduced the new, temporary rules in a press release on Monday.

“The health and safety of Albertans continues to be our top priority. The Government of Alberta is doing everything it can to help contain the spread of COVID-19,” said Copping in the release.

“Changes to the Employment Standards Code will ensure Albertans can care for themselves and their loved ones during these challenging times, while providing flexibility to Alberta’s job creators.”

Here’s what’s changing:

Changes for employees

Anyone who is affected by the closure of daycares and schools, or who is caring for a sick or self-isolated family member due to the coronavirus, now has access to unpaid job-protected leave. The 90-day requirement is officially waived, and the length of leave is flexible.

Changes for employers and employees

The maximum time for a temporary layoff has been increased from 60 days to 120 days. This is retroactive to March 17, and is to ensure that employees remain attached to a job that has temporarily let them go.

Changes for employers

The requirement for 24-hour written notice for shift changes has been removed, and the two-week notice for schedule changes has also been removed for those under an averaging agreement. This means, usually, that an employee is working unusual hours and days to add up to an average of 40 hours per week. Nurses and oilfield workers are commonly part of an averaging agreement.

The requirement to provide written notice of group termination to unions or employees has been removed in the case of the termination being 50 or more people.

Lastly, the process for approvals to modify workplace standards has been streamlined.

Copping stated that these rules are in effect immediately, and will remain for the duration of the public health emergency that Alberta is under, or as long as the government determines that they are needed.

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