Posted on Jul 30, 2020


EDMONTON - Changes to employment standards in Bill 32, which was passed by the UCP majority on Wednesday, have dire consequences for the pay and working conditions of both union and non-union working Albertans.

“The changes to the Employment Standards Code outlined in Bill 32 will have a detrimental impact on the rights of employees in Alberta. Canadian courts have recognized for years that the workplace is indeed imbalanced, as employers have significant power and employees at all levels have considerably less bargaining power,” said Joel Fairbrother, an employment lawyer with Taylor Janis LLP.

Bill 32 removes the requirement for employers to work with employees on changes to work hours and schedules. New rules allow employers to average hours worked by their employees over 52 weeks rather than 12 weeks in order to avoid paying overtime if an employee works more than 44 hours in a week.

“The courts have taken significant steps to address and correct that power imbalance. The changes to the Employment Standards Code proposed by Bill 32 will strip away important rights and entitlements that employees currently have in Alberta, while further empowering employers who already hold the majority of power in the workplace,” Fairbrother said.

Bill 32 also allows employer associations to apply for exemptions to all or part of the Employment Standards Code without ministerial oversight meaning powerful, well-funded associations will have a backdoor through which to reduce the minimum wage. Associations will also be able to seek exemptions for limits on consecutive days worked, daily hours worked, and overtime pay not included in averaging agreements.

Holiday pay is also affected by changes passed in Bill 32. Employers are no longer required to average an employee’s wages for the four weeks preceding a holiday and can exclude vacation pay, overtime, and holiday pay in the four-week average of their choosing.

Additional changes to rest periods mean that employers can now require an employee to work 10 hours and only offer only one 30-minute break.

“The UCP just passed a law that takes money out of the pockets of hard-working Albertans and hands hundreds of millions over to their bosses,” said Christina Gray, NDP Labour Critic. “Your boss can now deduct your pay, change your hours, deny you overtime, and delay paying you out if you get fired - all without asking you,” said Christina Gray, NDP Labour Critic.