Alberta Employment Standards: Everything Employers Need to Know

  • Employment Standards
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

Alberta’s Employment Standards Code (“ESC”) promotes fair and equitable workplace practices and protects workers' rights. It is a crucial resource for employers in the province.

The Employment Standards department works closely with employers in all sectors to ensure compliance with employment standards and to support fair and safe working conditions. As well as providing guidance on minimum employment standards, including hours of work, overtime, vacation pay, and public holidays, the department also offers support and resources for employers to ensure you are meeting your obligations.

Another key initiative of Alberta’s Employment Standards division is to promote healthy and safe working conditions, providing guidance on workplace health and safety legislation, including hazard identification and risk assessment, workplace inspections, and reporting of workplace incidents. It also offers support and resources for employers to develop effective health and safety programs and policies. Here is everything you need to know as an employer in Alberta regarding the ESC.

How does the department ensure compliance with the Employment Standards Code?

Employment Standards officers are responsible for promoting and enforcing compliance with the ESC in Alberta. One of the key ways the division ensures compliance is through education and outreach. The division provides information and resources to employers and employees about their rights and obligations under the ESC. This includes minimum standards for wages, hours of work, overtime, vacation pay, and public holidays.

How do Employment Standards Code claims work in Alberta?

When an employee believes their employer has violated the ESC, they may file a claim with the Alberta Employment Standards division. The division investigates claims of non-compliance and, if necessary, takes action to enforce the ESC. Claims can be filed for a wide range of issues, including unpaid wages, holiday pay, overtime, termination pay, or vacation pay.

Claims can be filed online, by mail, or in person at one of the division's offices. Employees will need to provide detailed information about the alleged violation, including dates, hours worked, and wages earned.

What happens during an Employment Standards Code inspection?

Officers within this division will conduct inspections of employers to ensure compliance with the ESC. During an inspection, an officer from the division will visit the employer's workplace to review records and assess compliance with the ESC. The officer will typically ask to review records such as payroll, time sheets, and employment contracts. If the officer identifies issues of non-compliance, they may take action to enforce the ESC.

How does the province carry out prosecutions?

In cases where an employer is found to be in violation of the ESC, the division may pursue prosecution. This may involve legal action against the employer, with penalties such as fines or imprisonment for non-compliance. The division takes prosecution seriously and works to ensure that employers are held accountable for their actions.

How does the Employment Standards division ensure compliance with health and safety laws?

In addition to enforcing compliance with the ESC, Alberta’s Employment Standards division also works to promote and enforce compliance with health and safety laws in the province. The division is responsible for enforcing the Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”) and related regulations, which establish minimum standards for workplace health and safety.

On what grounds can inspectors conduct workplace health and safety inspections?

Under the OHSA, inspectors from the Employment Standards division may conduct inspections of workplaces on several grounds. Inspectors may conduct inspections based on a complaint or a report of a workplace accident or injury. Inspectors may also conduct inspections proactively to identify potential health and safety hazards in workplaces.

What happens during a proactive health and safety inspection?

During a proactive health and safety inspection, OHS inspectors will visit a workplace to assess compliance with health and safety laws. The inspector will review records, interview employees, and assess the workplace for potential hazards. The inspector will then provide a report to the employer, outlining any violations of health and safety laws and providing recommendations for addressing them.

What other enforcement powers do OHS inspectors exercise?

In addition to conducting inspections, inspectors have several other enforcement powers to promote compliance with health and safety laws. Inspectors may issue orders to employers to correct violations of health and safety laws. Inspectors may also issue stop-work orders if they identify a serious health and safety hazard that presents an immediate danger to workers.

Can employers appeal an OHS inspector’s order?

Employers who receive an order from an inspector may appeal the order. Appeals must be made in writing within 21 days after the date a party is served with a notice from Employment Standards. The appeal will be heard by an independent review panel, which will review the order and any evidence provided by the employer and the inspector. The review panel may affirm, vary, or revoke the inspector’s order.

How does workplace insurance work in Alberta?

The Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board (“WCB”) is responsible for administering workplace insurance in the province. Employers are required to register with the WCB and pay premiums based on the number of workers they employ and the risk of their industry. In exchange, the WCB provides insurance coverage for workplace injuries and illnesses. If a worker is injured on the job, they may be eligible for benefits such as medical treatment, wage replacement, and rehabilitation services.

Employers are required to report workplace injuries and illnesses to the WCB. The WCB will investigate the claim and determine whether the worker is eligible for benefits. Employers may be required to implement safety measures or make changes to the workplace to prevent future injuries or illnesses.

What is the procedure for businesses to report an employee’s injury or illness?

Under the Alberta Workers’ Compensation Act (“WCA”), employers are required to report workplace injuries and illnesses to the WCB. The procedure for reporting an injury or illness involves completing and submitting a Form C to the WCB. The form must be submitted within 72 hours of the employer becoming aware of the injury or illness.

The Form C requires information about the employee, the injury or illness, and the circumstances surrounding the incident. Employers must also provide information about any medical treatment that the employee has received or is expected to receive. Once the Form C is submitted, the WCB will investigate the claim and determine whether the employee is eligible for benefits.

Is there a reporting deadline for reporting injuries?

Yes, there is a reporting deadline for reporting injuries under the WCA. Employers are required to submit a Form C to the WCB within 72 hours of becoming aware of the injury or illness. Failure to report an injury or illness within this timeframe can result in penalties and legal action.

What can employees do if an employer refuses to report their accident?

If an employer refuses to report an employee’s accident or injury, the employee can file a report directly with the WCB. The employee should provide as much information as possible about the incident, including the date, time, and location of the incident, and any witnesses or evidence that may be available. The WCB will investigate the claim and determine whether the employee is eligible for benefits.

Employees may also wish to seek legal advice if they believe that their employer is not fulfilling their obligations under the WCA.

Can employers and employees appeal a decision with the WCB?

Yes, both employers and employees have the right to appeal a decision made by the WCB. Appeals must be made in writing within 90 days of the decision. The appeal will be heard by an independent appeals commission, which will review the evidence and make a decision.

Employers and employees may wish to seek legal advice before filing an appeal to ensure that they understand the process and their rights.

How to respond to employee complaints to the Alberta Employment Standards division

If an employee files a complaint with Alberta Employment Standards, as an employer, you should respond promptly and professionally. Employers should gather all relevant information about the complaint and take steps to address any issues that are identified.

You should also cooperate with any investigations or inspections that are conducted by the Employment Standards department. Employers should provide all requested information and documents and respond to any questions or concerns raised by the inspector.

Do you need help staying compliant with provincial employment laws?

Alberta’s Employment Standards department is responsible for enforcing compliance with the ESC and promoting workplace health and safety in the province. Employers should be aware of their obligations under these laws and work to ensure compliance to avoid penalties and legal action. By promoting a safe and fair working environment, employers can create a positive workplace culture that benefits both workers and the business.

If you need assistance staying compliant with Alberta’s ESC, Peninsula’s services allow you to receive quality advice on any employment issues you may have. Contact us at 1 833 247-3652 to speak with one of our experts today.

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