2018 Started With New Employment Standards…Were You Prepared?


In June 2017, the Government of Alberta passed Bill 17 which came into effect last week .  Bill 17 includes various changes that effect business, HR professionals and employees alike. The majority of the changes center around “Job Protected Leaves of Absence” but the bill also includes changes and additions to holiday pay, overtime, terminations, rest periods and payroll deductions.  As a business, you need to be aware of these changes to ensure you are in compliance.



Note that all employees, including temporary, term and seasonal, are eligible for ALL leaves after a probationary period of 90 days.

  • Parental Leave: While maternity leave has been around for a long time, the Alberta government has decided to match the terms set by the Federal government.  The Federal government has increased the amount of time for a maternity leave from 12 to 18 months.  This does not increase the amount of pay the employee will receive from unemployment maternity, but extends the allowable time.  Your employee can now access this time in Alberta too.
  • Compassionate Care Leave: Changes include employed for 90 days (instead of 52 weeks), the employee no longer has to be the primary caregiver and the leave has been extended from 8 to 27 weeks
  • NEW Protected Leaves:
    • Personal and Family Leave: 5 days per year. Are intended to deal with situation involving family, sickness, mental health etc.  These are unpaid days but are protected.
    • Long Term Illness and Injury Leave: Can be up to 16 weeks in duration and medical documentation is required to access this leave. (Short and long term disability will take precedence over legislation when appropriate).
    • Bereavement Leave: 3 days per year are allowed for the death of an immediate family member
    • Domestic Violence Leave: An employee is allowed under the legislation to accessed up to 10 days (unpaid) per year due to domestic violence. These days can be used if an employee, their dependent child or protected adult residing with the employee are subject to almost any form of domestic violence.  There are some limitations to access this unpaid leave.  This leave is intended for medical intervention, counselling, relocation, or legal matters.
    • Critical Illness of a Child: 36 weeks in duration is allowed for parents of a child who is critically injured or ill.
    • Death or Disappearance of a Child: In the event of a child disappearance, a parent can access up to 52 weeks of unpaid leave and double that in the event of a death. Either of these instances would be if a crime were committed.
    • Citizenship Ceremony Leave: An employee can access a half day to attend a citizenship ceremony for themselves.


  • General Holidays and General Holiday Pay: An employee is now immediately eligible for holiday pay instead of having to be an employee for 30 days. In addition, employees will now be paid for a holidays regardless if it’s not a regular work day for them.  There is a calculation to determine the amount of pay required.  Please check with https://www.alberta.ca/employment-standards.aspx for more information
  • Overtime Banking: In the past, employers have been able to bank overtime on an hour to hour basis.  Under the new guidelines, banked overtime must be calculated at 1.5 hours per hour worked.  Banked overtime can now be paid out over 6 months rather than 3.
  • Terminations: Changes to termination are around layoff notices, definitions to “temporary lay-offs”, and termination pay.  Please see the employment standards website for more information.
  • Rest Periods: In the past, employers were required to ensure that employees were granted a 30 min rest period for a shift in excess of 5 hours.  The wording under Bill 17 now states that an employee is to have the same 30 min rest period but within every 5 hours.  The difference is subtle but important.  Breaks can be broken into two 15 minute periods.
  • Deductions in Pay: Employers are no longer permitted to deduct monies for faulty work or cash shortages.  More information is coming as to the actual wording so keep an eye out for more information.

Employees and employers count on each other everyday to ensure their livelihoods.  Having a good working relationship with your employees will not only ensure government compliance but also result in lower turnover and increase employee morale so spend a little time to understand the new policies and develop effective internal policies to make things clear for EVERYONE.



Information gathered with the help of Sherry Shephard.



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