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Alberta brings in employment standards changes due to COVID-19

Tuesday, April 07, 2020 @ 11:57 AM | By Ian Burns

Alberta has brought in temporary rules to provide job protection for workers and flexibility for employers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The health and safety of Albertans continues to be our top priority,” said Minister of Labour and Immigration Jason Copping. “The government of Alberta is doing everything it can to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Changes to the employment standards code will ensure Albertans can care for themselves and their loved ones during these challenging times, while providing flexibility to Alberta’s job creators.”

According to the government’s announcement, employees caring for children affected by school and daycare closures or ill or self-isolated family members due to COVID-19 will have access to unpaid job-protected leave. The 90-day employment requirement is waived and leave length is flexible.

The province says it is also increasing the maximum time for a temporary layoff from 60 days to 120 days to ensure temporarily laid off employees stay attached to a job longer. This change is retroactive for any temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 that occurred on or after March 17. Scheduling flexibility will be improved by removing the 24-hour written notice requirement for shift changes, and the two weeks’ notice for changes to work schedules for those under an averaging agreement.

The requirement to provide a group termination notice to employees and unions when 50 or more employees are being terminated is also being removed. In addition, the province is also streamlining the process for approvals related to modifying employment standards so employers and workers can respond quicker to changing conditions at the workplace due to the public health emergency.

The changes, which were revealed April 6, take effect immediately and will be in place as long as government determines it is needed and the public health emergency order remains.