Employees make the world go round. After all, they are the ones that are doing the necessary work to keep businesses running. From kitchens to offices and grocery stores to gas stations, it is the hard work of employees that keeps everything running smoothly.

This is why Alberta considers protecting employee rights to be such an important issue. Alberta protects employees through the Employment Standards Code. These are a series of laws and regulations that protect employees from being exploited by an employer. There are quite a few of them, so we won’t be able to cover everything in depth, but we’ll leave you with resources to continue learning more at your leisure.

We will begin with an overview of what the Employment Standards Code covers. This will give you a better understanding of the kinds of stuff you’ll find in the rules. From there, we’ll see what options are available to you should your employer break one of these rules. Then we’ll look at how these rules are enforced and where you can learn more about them.

What Does the Alberta Employment Standards Code Cover?

The employment standards that Alberta sets forth are designed to protect employees. As such, they cover a fairly broad range of important topics for employees. Things like overtime pay, deductions from earnings, and how holiday pay works are all covered by the Alberta Employment Standards Code, but so are issues like temporary layoffs, termination, and overtime hours.

The following is a summary of what the Alberta Employment Standards Code include:

  • Alberta General Holidays: This section deals with how specific holidays like Canada Day, Christmas Day, or Good Friday are supposed to be treated by employers. 
  • Averaging Arrangements: These are laws regarding averaging an employee’s hours to determine overtime pay or time off with pay.
  • Deductions from Earnings: Some deductions from earnings are legal, while other deductions are expressly prohibited. This section covers the rules regarding what is and isn’t acceptable.
  • Exceptions for Specific Industries: Some industries have unique rules they have to follow or modified versions of rules that have to be followed, so any exceptions are included here.
  • General Holidays: More information about how holidays are supposed to be handled, generally.
  • Group Terminations: Special notice is needed when terminating fifty or more employees within a four-week period. Information on that and more about group terminations are contained here.
  • Hours of Work and Rest: Employees are entitled to breaks and days off, which depend on factors such as how long an employee works or what their status is.
  • Job-Protected Leaves: Information about job-protected leaves is included here, as there are quite a few different types of leave an employee can make use of without fear of losing their jobs.
  • Minimum Wage: Employees must be paid at least minimum wage. Information on minimum wage, and issues, such as how tips are factored in, are covered.
  • Overtime: If you work overtime, you are entitled to overtime pay. The rules set out how this functions.
  • Payment of Earnings: A number of laws prevent employers from messing with employees during the payment of their earnings.
  • Temporary Layoffs: A temporary layoff isn’t the same as a termination, so it has its own section in the rules.
  • Termination: A termination must follow the law; otherwise, it could be deemed a wrongful termination and lead to repercussions.
  • Vacations: Most employees are entitled to vacation time and vacation pay. How much they are entitled to is laid out in the rules.
  • Youth Employment: There are unique rules and laws that need to be followed when a minor is employed.

What Can You Do If Your Employer Breaks an Alberta Employment Standards Rule?

If you believe that your employer has broken one of the rules listed within the Employment Standards Code, then there are a few ways that you can go about rectifying the situation.

The first option is to contact the Employment Standards to ask questions to determine whether or not your employer has broken any rules.  Employment Standards can be contacted by going to the website:  https://www.alberta.ca/contact-employment-standards.aspx.

Another thing you could do is to file a complaint. This is a little more serious and a little more complicated. Your name is linked to the complaint, and it instigates a formal investigation. Thankfully, however, your employer is not legally allowed to terminate your employment over a complaint.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your complaint, you may consider appealing the decision.

How is the Employment Standards Code Enforced?

Complaints and tips from employees are only one of the ways that rules are enforced. There are several other ways that they are enforced.

Alberta’s Employment Standards laws are enforced through audits, inspections, penalties, prosecutions, and judgment collection. That means that enforcement may be as simple as keeping an eye on an employer to ensure compliance. But it could also be as complicated as prosecuting an employer and slapping them with a fine as a penalty.

How Can I Learn More About the Employment Standards Code in Alberta?

If your employer has been doing something that goes against the Alberta Employment Standards Code, then it is a good idea to get in touch with an experienced employment lawyer. They’ll help you to investigate the situation and take the necessary steps to fix things. It might be intimidating to try to take on your employer yourself, but having a lawyer on your side might offer more courage.

Suppose you want to learn more about the Alberta Employment Standards Code. In that case, you’ll be happy to hear that the Alberta government has made learning resources available to help further educate employees about their rights and employers about their responsibilities. These range from self-assessment tools to publications and webinars packed full of useful information that will help you to ensure that you aren’t taken advantage of by an underhanded employer.