On May 29, 2019, we provided an overview of Bill 2: An Act to Make Alberta Open for Business, which was introduced by the United Conservative Party (“UCP”) in Alberta shortly after the party came into power earlier this year. Our communique on this topic can be found here.
On July 3, 2019, Bill 2 was passed and became law. Bill 2 makes a number of changes to Alberta’s labour and employment legislation, including amendments to rules regarding overtime banking, general holiday pay, and union certification applications. The amendments to the sections pertaining to overtime banking and general holiday pay will take effect on September 1, 2019, while the changes to union certification application procedures are already in place.
On July 18, 2019, two new regulations under the Employment Standards Code were introduced in Alberta.
The first new regulation is called the Employment Standards (Flexible Averaging Agreements) Amendment Regulation, AR 71/2019. This regulation amends the Employment Standards Regulation to remove the ability for employers and employees to enter into Flexible Averaging Agreements. Flexible Averaging Agreements were introduced by the previous government in Alberta, the New Democratic Party (“NDP”), on January 1, 2018. They allow for “flexible time” to be earned when employees work more than their scheduled daily hours, but not more than an agreed-upon daily overtime threshold. The employee can then take the flexible time off on another day, and the employee is paid at their regular wage rate instead of the current statutory overtime rate of 1.5 times the regular rate. This new regulation comes into force on September 1, 2019, and provides for a transition period for workplaces with Flexible Averaging Agreements already in place.
One of the changes in Bill 2 was to repeal the NDP’s change to overtime banking that came into force January 1, 2018, whereby time off in lieu of overtime pay is calculated at 1.5 hours off for each hour of overtime worked. The UCP’s Bill 2 reverted this calculation back to 1 hour off for 1 overtime hour worked. The new regulation reflects the fact that this Bill 2 amendment would make having a Flexible Averaging Agreement redundant.
To date, no changes to the other type of averaging agreement introduced by the NDP, the Hours of Work Averaging Agreement, have been announced by the UCP.
The second regulation introduced on July 18, 2019 is entitled the Employment Standards (Lookout Observers) Amendment Regulation, AR 72/2019, and has taken immediate effect. The primary purpose of the regulation is to exempt fire lookout observers from the employment laws that limit hours of work in a day, require recording of all hours of work, require days of rest each week, and entitle employees to overtime pay.
Miller Thomson will continue to report on changes made to employment laws across Canada. For further information, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Labour and Employment team.