Legislature Passes New Labour and Employment Legislation

Bill 17, the dubiously named Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act, which we previously reported on (Changes to Employment Standards and Labour Relations Legislation, Update on Changes to Alberta’s Employment Standards and Labour Relations Legislation, Why Alberta Unions are Celebrating the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act)  and discussed in our recent webinar, received Royal Assent on June 7, 2017.

Before it passed, the following amendments were made to the Bill:

  • The notice requirement to return to work from compassionate care leave, death or disappearance of a child leave, critical illness of a child leave, and long-term illness and injury leave was increased to 1 week from 48 hours.
  • A power was added to determine by Regulation when the group termination notice requirements will not apply [it is anticipated the new Regulations may exempt the construction industry from this application, and possibly others].
  • Medical certificates under the Employment Standards Code may now be issued by health professions (to be identified in Regulations) in addition to physicians.
  • A clarification was added that an Employment Standards appeal may be filed and served when the Director cancels an Averaging Agreement.
  • A reference to “dependent contractor” was added to the definition of “employees” under the Labour Relations Code. This amendment clarifies the intention contained in the rest of the Bill to include dependent contractors under the Labour Relations Code.
  • Employers whose primary operations are the provision of laboratory diagnostic services under a contract with a regional health authority are included in the essential services provisions of the Labour Relations Code. Professional corporations under the Health Professions Act whose primary operations are the provision of laboratory diagnostic services are exempted from this provision.
  • The deletion of section 139 of the Labour Relations Code, which we think was a mistake, was cancelled. Section 139 will therefore remain. It permits employees of a party (usually unions) to be a nominee on an arbitration board unless that person is directly affected by the matter under arbitration or has been involved in an attempt to negotiate or settle the difference.

As previously reported, the provisions of the Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code come into force as follows:

Employment Standards Code

  • Most changes will not come into effect until January 1, 2018.
  • The youth employment provisions will come into effect on proclamation. It is not known when proclamation will occur, but presumably it will be after the Regulations relating to youth employment have been issued.
  • Where a collective agreement is in effect on January 1, 2018, the new standards of the Employment Standards Code (sections 6 to 67) will not come into effect until the earlier of January 1, 2019 or the date of a new collective agreement.

Labour Relations Code

  • The essential services changes come into force effective May 25, 2017.
  • The new certification, revocation, and Judicial Review changes come into force on September 1, 2017.
  • The application of the Labour Relations Code to farm and ranch employees and dependent contractors comes into force on January 1, 2018.
  • All other changes to the Labour Relations Code are now in force with Royal Assent.