Employment Standards Code

What is the Employment Standards Code?

The Employment Standards Code sets the minimum employment standards in Alberta, and the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers. While there are exceptions, such as federally-regulated industries, the legislation applies to approximately 85% of the province’s workers and business owners.

The Code sets out the rights and responsibilities of both employees and employers in the workplace. It covers a wide range of topics such as minimum wage, working hours, vacation entitlement, and general holidays. The Employment Standards Code applies to most business owners.

The Ministry of Labour is responsible for enforcing the standards in workplaces across Alberta.

The Basics

The Code provides minimum standards in the following areas:

  • General holidays and pay
  • Statutory holidays and pay
  • Scheduling
  • Hours of work and rest periods
  • Overtime hours and overtime pay
  • Job-protected leaves (e.g., personal and family responsibility leave / sick leave, maternity leave, parental leave, etc.)
  • Minimum wage
  • Earning deductions
  • Payment of earnings
  • Temporary layoffs
  • Employee terminations and pay
  • Vacation entitlement and vacation pay
  • Youth employment laws

At the very minimum, you must understand the basic employment standards to provide employees their rights and to fulfill your duties as an employer.

Employment Standards Enforcement

Alberta’s employment standards are enforced through audits, inspections, penalties, prosecutions, and judgment collection. Failure to comply will result in administrative penalties and may lead to prosecution.

Bill 2, An Act to Make Alberta Open for Business

On July 18, 2019, Bill 2, An Act to Make Albert Open for Business received Royal Assent. The Bill reintroduced provisions to the Employment Standards Code that were changed or repealed by Bill 17, The Fair and Family-Friendly Workplace Act). These changes are effective September 1, 2019. The main changes are regarding holiday pay, overtime, student minimum wage and the Labour Relations Code. Employers must take appropriate actions to meet these new standards by revising workplace policies, procedures, and operating practices to ensure the business is compliant.

Unlimited Advice on Alberta’s Employment Standards Code

Call our complimentary Peninsula employer helpline for information on Alberta’s Employment Standards Code. We are dedicated to supporting small business owners with employer advice, employment rights, and any human resources concerns.
Speak with our HR experts anytime: 1 (833) 247-3652.


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