After a lengthened deliberation and constant panel discussions, Bill 32 (also known as the Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act) was given royal assent in Alberta on July 29, 2020.
In an effort to uphold order and balance through just working practices and labour standards, Bill 32 seeks to fulfill its main purpose of amending the Alberta Employment Standards Code (ESC) and Labour Relations Code (LRC). Although some may dismiss it as a menial move by the Canadian Governor-General, the resulting effects of the development itself are what Alberta Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs) must account for.
To ensure that you are up to date and can manage your human capital in the best way possible, while adjusting to any legal changes Bill 32 brings, here is everything you need to know:
The Changes to the ESC
With Bill 32 in full effect, various aspects of the employment standards code have been changed and amended to ensure a more well-rounded working experience for the average Alberta workplace. Here are some of the most notable changes to the ESC that business owners and leaders must account for and adjust to accordingly:
- Deductions from Pay: Based on the legislation, Bill 32 now affords employers the right to deduct from their employees’ earnings in two specific situations without their consent. Such a move is possible when (1) there was an overpayment of earnings that stemmed from a payroll calculation error, and (2) vacation pay was paid to the employee before they were deemed eligible for it!
- Termination Pay: Employers are now allowed to follow longer time periods when providing termination pay. The latest guidelines state that employers can provide severance compensation ten consecutive days after the end of the pay period when the termination was deemed effective. Conversely, it also allows organizations to yield termination payments up to 31 consecutive days after the last day of an employee’s tenure.
- Rest periods: The Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act now allows you to choose to provide an employee a rest period of 30 minutes or more within or immediately after a five-hour shift. If shifts are longer than 10 hours, you are legally obliged to provide two 30-minute rest periods.
- Averaging Arrangements: Employers can now implement averaging arrangements that will allow them to schedule employees to work longer hours per day without providing overtime pay or attaining employee consent.
- Holiday and Vacation Pay: In the case of statutory holiday pay, employers can use the four-week period before the holiday to determine how much statutory holiday the employee is entitled to. Conversely, the same bill also states that legislative leaves must now be included in the calculation of an employee’s tenure length for the purposes of determining vacation pay.
The Changes to the LRC
In terms of the Labour Relations Code, employers and SMB owners must note several significant changes that the Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act has made. Let’s look at the most significant updates to watch out for:
- Board Powers: After the implementation of Bill 32 in November 2020, board members of organizations were provided with four additional power expansions:The first of these powers is the approval of a single chair or vice-chair’s ability to hear any matter in an emergency, without the parties’ consent. Secondly, company boards can hear more cases with the chair or vice-chair sitting alone—a different turn from past regulations. Thirdly, board members can dismiss applications without a hearing where an application has been filed with improper motives or is otherwise an abuse of process. Lastly, affected professionals now have the power to summarily dismiss a duty of fair representation application where the applicant worker has rejected a reasonable settlement offer.
- Union Finances: When it comes to unions, Bill 32 has enforced a few more standards that hold sectors responsible for providing the utmost assistance and service to protect employee sectors within the company. Based on the text, unions must now provide members with an annual financial statement as soon as possible following the union’s fiscal year-end.
- Collective Agreement Renewals: With the help of the Bill, it is now established that collective agreements can be renewed early when employees vote to enter the new collective agreement. Such a right is effective after their union informs an employee that such renewal will prevent a competing union from applying for certification.
With the Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act in full effect, SMB employers and business owners are now provided with additional rights and responsibilities in their management processes. Through this guide’s help, you’ll be able to make the necessary decisions and changes that will protect both you and your employees while restoring balance to the workplace!
Involvi provides human resources consulting to small and medium-sized businesses in Alberta. If you want to make your employment relationship seamless, be sure to get in touch with us today for a complimentary HR health check!