New employment standards spark concerns
Thursday, Jan 11, 2018 06:00 am
New employment standards enforced by the provincial government Jan. 1 have some local representatives concerned.
“There’s lots of concerns about the ability to comply with increased regulation and pressures,” said Airdrie Chamber of Commerce president Linda Bruce.
“A lot of businesses feel that they already do look after their employees and, certainly, I’m sure many do, but time will tell as to what exactly the results will be.
“Businesses, especially small businesses, are nervous with what feels like layers and layers and layers of financial regulation that keeps coming down on them.”
Some of the new standards include job-protected sick leave, long-term illness and injury leave, care for critical adult or child leave, bereavement leave and domestic violence leave, according to a press release issued by the province Jan. 2.
Other changes include expanded compassionate care, maternity and parental leave to align with federal Employment Insurance benefits, overtime banking at 1.5 times the number of hours worked, as well as new standards for termination, temporary layoffs and youth employment.
“Albertans deserve fair and family-friendly workplaces that support a strong economy and ensure they can take care of their loved ones. After nearly 30 years of inaction by the previous government, Alberta’s laws were out of date and out of step with the rest of Canada,” said Minister of Labour Christina Gray in the release. “I’m proud that our government brought forward these modern, fair and balanced laws that protect the rights of hard-working Albertans, support their families and help businesses stay competitive.”
There are also new rules surrounding general holiday pay, where most employees, full-time and part-time, are entitled to paid general holidays, which Airdrie MLA Angela Pitt said she disagrees with.
“There was a restaurant that was not open on New Year’s Day but had to pay all of its employees and it cost this employer $11,000,” she said.
She said when the province introduced Bill 17, The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act, in the spring of 2017, it was a “huge red flag.”
“There was lots of dangers in this bill that we certainly picked out and then there was lots of good things, too, which was a bit of a bone of contention for us,” she said. “Asking us to vote for a whole bunch of stuff that we don’t like is not fair while agreeing with a whole bunch of good stuff in there that we would have liked to see passed. In particular, the compassionate care benefits.”
Bruce said the Airdrie Chamber of Commerce is working with Alberta Chambers of Commerce to make sure the voices of small business owners in Airdrie are heard.
She said it’s important for business owners to support their employees but small business owners don’t have as much room to manoeuvre financially.
“Everyone wants to make sure that their employees are well taken care of, because a business that looks after their employees, their employees will also look after the business. The two go hand in hand,” she said. “There’s certainly businesses that need to have a hammer held to them, but most businesses, I think, try to comply or go above and beyond when they can.”
For more information on the new employment standards, visit alberta.ca