Revamped Alberta labour rules may have big impact on small business – The Lawyer’s Daily

Damian Rigolo

Jan 11, 2018

New employment standards legislation that was passed by the Alberta government in June 2017 will have a significant impact on both employees and employers according to a recent article by Ian Burns in The Lawyer’s Daily. The Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act came into effect on January 1, 2018 and introduces a number of new rules that aim to provide employees with more protection, but will require employers to amend their current policies and procedures. To provide perspective on the effect of these rules, Burns consulted several experts, including Damian Rigolo, a labour and employment law partner in Osler’s Calgary office.

In the article, Damian says that the overall purpose of the legislation is to bring Alberta’s employment regulations more up-to-date, explaining that “[a] lot of the provisions are what you see in other jurisdictions, particularly Ontario.”

He goes on to describe the added protection afforded to employees under the new rules, as well as the potential impact on small business.

“There’s a whole number of new unpaid leaves employees can take advantage of; there [are] restrictions on what an employer can deduct from wages. And there’s the whole concept of overtime agreements, with overtime pay in lieu now banked at 1.5 times the number of hours worked rather than just straight time,” he says. “There’s no doubt all of these changes will benefit employees.

“For a workforce of 10 or 15 people,” Damian continues, “the increased number of unpaid leaves is going to be something that will put a toll on those workplaces if there are a number of employees that go off on the variety of leaves that are available. The increased overtime banking rates is something that is going to add a cost, and all of these things are things that impact small business owners a ton more than the bigger companies.”

Damian concludes by suggesting that Alberta businesses seek legal advice to ensure they’re complying with the new rules.

“[T]he first step is to be proactive now rather than be scrambling five or six months from now when an employee makes a complaint because you weren’t aware of one of the changes.”

If you subscribe to the The Lawyer’s Daily online, you can read the full article “Revamped Alberta labour rules may have big impact on small business” by Ian Burns in the January 11, 2018 edition.