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Legislative Changes Impacting Alberta’s Workplaces

October 23, 2020

With COVID-related employment issues dominating workplaces, we wanted to take a moment to remind you that Bill 32 passed at the end of July. It contains some sweeping changes for the employment and labour landscape in Alberta.

The government titled Bill 32 “Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act, 2020,” signaling a movement away from the approach introduced by the NDP government just a few years ago. Employers will likely find that the changes improve their ability to manage payroll costs and allow for a more flexible response to workplace needs.  Some changes are already in effect, some will take effect November 1 and others will take effect in the future.

Highlight of changes to the Employment Standards Code include:

  • HWAA (Hours of Work Averaging Agreements) are being replaced by HWAA (yes, the same acronym, to make things not at all confusing, but it now stands for “Hours of Work Averaging ARRANGEMENTS).  The change in name highlights the key difference because now no consent is required from employees and employers have much more flexibility in staffing;
  • deductions from earnings in the case of overpayment or pre-payment of vacation pay will be permitted with notice, consent will not be required;
  • payment upon termination will now be due 10 days after the end of the pay period or else 31 days after the termination date (no more 3 day rule);
  • layoffs can be up to 90 days (in a 120 day period), or up to 180 consecutive days if the layoff is related to COVID-19; and
  • simplified breaks, holiday pay calculations and group termination provisions.

Bill 32 also makes changes to the Labour Relations Code, affecting workplaces that are unionized (or may become unionized). Changes include removing some of the “guilty until proven innocent” provisions for employers, extensions to the time periods for repeat certification applications and restrictions on remedial certification.

As if things have not been challenging enough, employers now need to be actively planning and implementing Bill 32 while also continuing to manage their workforce in the constantly moving COVID-19 world we find ourselves in. Inhaus has the practical experience to help you understand and implement Bill 32 understanding the broader challenges you face. We are your HR legal partner.

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