Alberta's Workplace Legislation Review: It's a big deal for your business

Posted by: Kaitlyn Mason on April 4, 2017

The Alberta Government is making changes to Alberta’s Labour Relations and Employment Standards Codes. Read this blog from our Policy Director, Zoe Addington, to find out about the consultation process, along with what to expect from your Calgary Chamber moving forward on this issue.

High level, here's what you need to know:

  • The Government of Alberta is revising two pieces of legislation: the Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code. Changes will impact every business in Alberta.
  • Employment code changes could result in significant new administrative burden and weeks of additional paid time off for every employee.
  • Important Labour Code changes could make it easier to form a union, even without a vote.

The full story

On February 21st, we let you, the Calgary business community, know that the provincial government is planning to make changes to the Labour Relations Code.

On March 13, the government announced the start of their review of the province’s workplace legislation, focusing on the Employment Standards Code and the Labour Relations Code

The Employment Standards Code (ESC) addresses minimum standards such as when employees qualify for overtime pay, maternity leave, and how sick time is managed. Given the scope of the ESC, changes will impact every business.  Changes have the potential to increase employer costs directly and through additional administrative burden.

The Labour Relations Code (LRC) lays out rules dealing with the establishment of unions and the union management relationship, including bargaining.  It applies to provincially regulated private sector employers, including the construction industry.  Given the scope of the LRC, any changes will impact unionized employers but also impact non-union employers should employees exercise their right to join a union.

The Government of Alberta has only allowed five weeks for Albertans and business owners to provide feedback on these important changes. The consultation period ends April 18, 2017. 

Given the current economic climate and other recent changes to the work environment such as increased minimum wage, the carbon levy, changes to worker’s compensation board, and increased municipal and provincial taxes, businesses across the province are facing significant challenges and have had little time to adjust.

Over 90% of business in Alberta are small businesses. Our member businesses, like yours, have told us you cannot afford more costly regulations. The Calgary Chamber is concerned with the cumulative cost of more regulation to business and we question the need to move forward with these changes now. 

For Calgary businesses that are unionized, changes to the LRC will have a direct impact on union-management relations. The right to be represented by a union is a constitutional right for all employees. Changes to the certification process could impact the current secret ballot voting process, which is extremely important in a free and democratic society.

We need your feedback!

We are looking for your feedback by asking you to participate in our consultation survey to gauge the impacts to your business.

Answer 8 questions Employment Standards Code:

Answer 11 questions on the Labour Relations Code:

Prior to April 18th, we will send a letter to our provincial government outlining impacts to our business community and the concerns we see with proposed changes. 

More details to come – but we will make a letter available for you to send to your MLA and the Government of Alberta via our website.

Zoe Addington is Director of Policy and Government Relations at the Calgary Chamber.