Workers in Alberta have rights at work that are protected by law. This section is intended to empower workers to know and demand their rights, and to give them the tools to exercise the rights they have as workers.
These standards are the minimum required by law, and you as an employee cannot sign them away. The Employment Standards Code states clearly:
An agreement that this Act or a provision of it does not apply, or that the remedies provided by it are not to be available for an employee, is against public policy and void.
The information contained below applies to almost all workers in Alberta, but is intended primarily for workers who do not belong to unions. Unionized workers should check their collective agreement or talk to their shop steward or union representative to find out what their rights at work are. Most collective agreements give the workers' rights that go beyond the minimum level set by law.
The information below is not intended as legal advice. The Alberta Federation of Labour is a non-governmental umbrella organization of unions.
If you work in a unionized environment, you should approach your union with any questions or concerns first. If further information is required, the Alberta Labour Relations Board can be contacted at http://www.alrb.gov.ab.ca/, 1-800-463-2572.
If you work in a non-unionized work environment, you can contact Alberta Employment Standards. They can be reached at 780-427-3731 or 1-877-427-3731 between 8:15 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday to have your questions answered, or you can place your inquiry online here. Do you need to make a complaint? The step-by-step process on how to file a complaint can be found here.
- What is the minimum wage in Alberta?
Alberta's general minimum wage is $15 per hour. As of July 26th, 2019, students under the age of 18 have a lower minimum wage of $13 per hour. This lower minimum wage only applies to the first 28 hours worked in a week when school is in session—subsequent hours past 28, must be paid at $15 per hour. The youth minimum wage does not apply to workers under the age of 18 who are not enrolled in an education institution.
- My boss says that I have to pay for my uniform for work. Is this legal?
No. Deductions for uniforms aren’t allowed. This includes any costs associated with the purchase, use, cleaning or repair of a uniform, or any other special article of wearing apparel that an employee is required to wear during their hours of work.
- My boss tells me that I have to be at work 15 minutes before my shift, but I don't start getting paid until I actually start. Can he do that?
No. Any time you are required to be at work the employer has to pay you.
- How many breaks am I entitled to in a day?
You are entitled to 30 minutes of rest after every five hours of work. It can be paid or unpaid, and can be broken up into 10 minute blocks, 15 minute blocks, or taken all together. It's up to the employer. However, you cannot work past five hours without a break of some kind.
- I work in a restaurant. My boss makes me pay if a table skips out on the bill. Are they allowed to do this?
No. Employment Standards say that employers cannot deduct for cash shortages or loss of property if an individual other than the employee has access to the cash or property or if a customer failed to pay.
This also means that an employer cannot have you contribute to a 'dine and dash' fund to cover for shortages.
If, however, you are the only person with access to a cash register and there is money missing, the employer can deduct it from your pay.
- My boss always sends people home if it's slow and only pays them for the time they were there. Can he do that?
You can be sent home early from work, but an employer cannot pay you for less than 3 hours of work, no matter how long you worked before being sent home.
For example, if you are scheduled to work an 8 hour shift and get sent home after 1 hour because it is a slow day, you are still entitled to receive pay for 3 hours of work.
- I just started at a restaurant and my employer says that the first three days is on the job training, so he's not paying me. Is this legal?
No. If you are required to be at work, you are entitled to wages.
- When do I get overtime pay?
You are entitled to overtime pay if you work more than 8 hours in a day or 44 hours in a week. Overtime pay must be at least 1.5 times your regular rate of pay for the overtime.
Some employers will offer alternative overtime agreements, such as time off with pay, which is calculated at 1.5 hours off for each hour of overtime. Employers do have the power to propose straight time banking overtime agreements.
- I've been working at my job for two years and my boss just came in and said that he didn't need me to work anymore. What can I do?
Unfortunately, employers can fire you at any time for almost any reason, or for no good reason at all. The only law is that they must give you notice. How much notice you're entitled to depends on how long you've been there:
- 0-3 months: no notice
- 3 months-2 years: 1 week notice
- 2 years-4 years: 2 weeks notice
- 4 years-6 years: 4 weeks notice
- 6 years-8 years: 5 weeks notice
- 8 years-10 years: 6 weeks notice
- 10 + years: 8 weeks notice
The employer can also 'pay you out' instead of giving you notice by paying the salary you would have earned over the notice period.
Notice is not required if you are fired for 'just cause' such as if you are caught stealing or if you were hired for a term position that has ended.
- I was scheduled to work on Tuesday starting at noon, but on Monday afternoon my boss told me I have to come in at 8:00 am instead. Do I have to change the shift?
No. Employers cannot require you to change from one shift to another unless they have given you 24 hours' notice.
Almost all employees in Alberta fall under the jurisdiction of provincial labour standards. Only about 10 per cent of workers are covered under federal employment laws, including those people who work directly for the federal government or work in:
- Most federal Crown Corporations and federal Special Operating Agencies and private businesses necessary for the operation of a federal Act;
- Interprovincial trucking;
- Interprovincial shipping, ports, canals, tunnels and bridges;
- Air transportation, including airlines, airports and aerodromes;
- Telephone, telegraph and cable systems;
- Radio and television broadcasting (including cablevision);
- Grain elevators and feed and seed mills;
- Uranium mining and processing;
- Business dealing with protection of fisheries as a natural resource;
- Many First Nations activities.
Almost all other employees are covered by provincial labour legislation, but there are exceptions depending on particular sections of the act, which affect:
- employees on a farm or a ranch;
- various types of salespersons;
- professionals such as real estate brokers, and licensed insurance and securities salespersons;
- professions such as architects, engineers, lawyers, psychologists and information systems professionals;
- managers, supervisors and those employed in a confidential capacity
- licensed land agents;
- instructors or counsellors at a non-profit educational or recreational camp;
- extras in a film or video production;
- employees covered by other Acts (e.g., academic staff);
- municipal police officers.
- Minimum Wage
The minimum wage is one of the basic labour standards in Canada. It sets the lowest wage rate that an employer can pay employees law to perform their work. With only a few exceptions, an employer cannot pay less than the minimum wage in Alberta.
For some salespeople and professionals, the minimum wage is $542 per week. This includes:
- employees of direct sellers who are 16 years and older;
- salespersons working mainly away from the employer's premises who solicits orders for later delivery;
- an automobile, truck, recreational vehicle or bus salesperson;
- manufactured home salespersons;
- farm machinery salespersons;
- heavy duty construction equipment salesperson;
- residential home salesperson employed by a person who builds those homes;
- licensed land agents;
- professions such as architects, engineers, lawyers, psychologists and information systems professionals.
A domestic employee who lives, or lives primarily, in the employer's home is entitled to wages of at least $2, 582 per month. Domestic employees who do not live at the employers' residence are entitled to at least $13.60 an hour.
The Alberta minimum wage laws cover all employees in the province except:
- municipal police officers covered under the Police Act;
- farm or ranch employee whose work involves the production of eggs, milk, grain, seeds, fruit, vegetables, honey, livestock, game-production animals, poultry or bees or other primary agricultural operation.
Employers are generally not allowed to deduct from the earnings of an employee, except for things like taxes, Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance.
An employer is allowed to deduct from the earnings of an employee a sum of money that is:
- permitted or required to be deducted by an enactment or a judgment or order of a court;
- authorized to be deducted by a collective agreement that is binding on the employee; or
- personally authorized in writing by the employee to be deducted.
Under no circumstances, including the reasons listed above, can an employer deduct from earnings for:
- faulty workmanship;
- cash shortages or loss of property unless the employee is the only person who had access to the cash or property.
- Minimum Pay for Hours of Work
If you are scheduled to work and come to work, an employer cannot pay you for less than 3 hours of work.
For example, if you are scheduled to work an 8 hour shift and get sent home after 1 hour because it is a slow day, you are still entitled to pay for 3 hours of work.
- The Right to Refuse Unsafe Work
Unsafe work is work that involves an "imminent danger," which can be:
- a danger that isn't normal for that type of work, or
- a danger under which a worker in that type of work would not normally do the work.
Workers in Alberta can refuse work which they believe puts them in imminent danger, or puts another worker at the workplace in imminent danger. The provincial government's Occupational Health and Safety Act explains this.
Domestic workers, such as nannies and housekeepers, and certain agricultural workers can't refuse unsafe work, because these workers aren't covered by the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Workers who refuse unsafe work cannot be fired or disciplined as a result, but employers often do punish workers who report unsafe work. Workers who report unsafe works are still entitled to receive pay, but they may be assigned to do other work while the problem is being corrected.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act states that once they have been notified of unsafe work, they are obligated to ensure no other worker is assigned to perform the work unless:
- the worker to be assigned is not exposed to imminent danger,
- the imminent danger has been eliminated.
The procedure to refuse unsafe work
(a)Reporting and remaining on site for the supervisor's investigation
The worker should report immediately to both the supervisor and the worker health and safety representative (if there is one) the refusal to work and the related safety concern. You should remaining on site for the shift, while taking every measure to report the refusal. This may minimize complications later in the process.
After being told about the refusal, the supervisor investigates the work, fixes it, and gives a report to the worker of what was found, and the repairs that were made.
(b) Health and safety officer's investigation
After receiving the supervisor's report, a worker who believes the work is still unsafe can file a complaint with Workplace Health and Safety at 1-866-415-8690. Workers who are deaf or have a hearing impairment can call 780-427-9999 in Edmonton, or 1-800-232-7215 from elsewhere in the province.
The worker health and safety representative should be told about the disagreement, too.
An occupational health and safety officer from Workplace Health and Safety investigates the work, makes a decision, and gives the decision in writing to the worker and the supervisor. It is expected that the supervisor has the work fixed if the officer's decision requires it, and the worker returns to work if the officer decides that the work is not unsafe.
A worker disagreeing with the officer's decision can request the Occupational Health and Safety Council to conduct a review.
- The Right to Know
Workers have the right to know about hazards and possible hazards in the workplace. Hazards can be anything from toxic chemicals in cleaning products for janitors to harassment and violent crime for retail workers. Poor lighting in offices, cold weather for workers working outside, and tools and machines in construction work are also examples of hazards in the workplace. Knowing about hazards and training to avoid hazards let workers work more safely.
Workers get to know about workplace hazards when provincial health and safety law states that employers have to tell workers about a specific hazard. Similarly, employers instruct workers in the proper way of doing work when provincial health and safety law states that the employer has to give such instruction.
Employers have to tell workers about certain hazardous materials they may need to work with. These products are classified, or defined, under the Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS).
Compressed gas, flammable and combustible materials, oxidizing materials, poisonous and infectious materials, corrosive materials and dangerously reactive materials each come with a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), which employers make available to workers. These hazardous materials, classified under WHMIS, are stored in containers with a WHMIS warning label.
Together, the WHMIS warning label and the MSDS state
- what the hazardous material is,
- how it is hazardous to humans,
- how to work safety with it, and
- what to do in an emergency.
The MSDS gives information in greater detail than the WHMIS warning label on the container.
Employers have to give workers training in:
- reading WHMIS labels so to be able to identify hazardous materials in the workplace and understand the hazardous effects of these materials,
- getting ahold of the MSDS and reading the data sheet,
- safely using hazardous materials in the workplace,
- storing and disposing of hazardous materials,
- knowing what to do if there's a spill, release, fire or poisoning involving a hazardous material, and
- using protective equipment in emergencies.
Other Workplace Hazards
There are other workplace hazards which workers have the right to know about, including:
- Safety hazards, which are present in work with machines and equipment, like chainsaws, forklift trucks, ladders and wood working machines.
- Biological hazards which include HIV-AIDS, Hepatitis A, B and C, and rabies, which are present in work with humans who are ill, animals, birds and insects.
- Physical hazards such as cold, humidity, heat, noise and vibration.
- Ergonomic hazards which can cause injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow, and are found in work that uses hand tools, involves pushing and pulling, lifting, shoveling, working while seated and working while standing.
- Stress and violence in the workplace result from bullying, threatening behaviour, verbal threats, harassment and verbal abuse.
Under health and safety laws in Alberta, employers have to tell workers about specific work related hazards. As an example, employers have to tell workers who work alone, including taxi drivers, retail and food outlet workers, home care workers, workers in the logging, gas and oil industries, truck drivers, business people in transit, security guards and custodians, about the hazards of their work.
By knowing about workplace hazards, workers can make sure employers make the work safer, provide protection to workers, and give training so that workers can work with the smallest possibility of injury or illness.
Besides classified hazardous materials training, training is required for workers in certain workplaces and for workers doing certain types of work. Training is necessary for avoiding injury and illness. In Alberta, some examples of worker health and safety training required by law are training for workers whose work might involve:
- delivering first aid,
- asbestos removal,
- working with explosives, and
- emergency mine rescue at surface mines.
With certain types of work, the employer has to have workers instructed in the proper way of working.
- Workers' Compensation
If you are injured at work, or are sick with a disease caused by your work, you might qualify for workers' compensation benefits. In Alberta, workers' compensation is administered by the Workers Compensation Board (WCB). It is the WCB that decides whether you qualify for compensation and what you get compensation for.
The WCB may cover:
- Health care benefits - WCB might pay the bills for prescriptions, counselling, chiropractic appointments, dental costs, and other health care costs, like the cost of braces, crutches, and hearing aids.
- Wage replacement benefits - When an injury or illness keeps a worker from going to work, WCB might pay the worker 90% of her or his wages in wage replacement benefits. Wage replacement benefits are paid also to a worker who goes to work, but doesn't earn as much as she or he used to earn because the work is different, or because the hours are fewer.
- Fatality benefits - When a worker dies from an occupational disease or an injury caused by work, the worker's dependents receive compensation from WCB.
If you are injured at work, you should get first aid and immediately report the injury to the supervisor. Next, you should see a doctor, letting the doctor know that the injury is a work injury. At workplaces without first aid, or if an injury requires it, you should immediately see a doctor of your choice. The employer organizes and pays for the travel cost to the doctor's office or hospital emergency.
When the injured worker meets with the doctor, the worker should tell the doctor how the injury is work related. By giving a detailed account of the incident, the worker can give the doctor all the facts needed to complete the medical report for WCB.
To fully describe the injury, the worker should tell the doctor not only about the main injury, but about minor ones, too. A work injury sometimes can lead to a second injury.
After an accident, an injury may not be obvious at first, as some injuries and occupational illnesses develop over time. A worker's notes on her of his minor work injuries, illnesses and accidents can be used to trace later how work may have caused or played a significant part in a more serious injury or illness.
After a work accident, whether or not you are injured or miss time from work, you should always report the accident to the employer. Within 72 hours of the accident, the employer may have to tell WCB about it.
Compensation may be paid by WCB to a worker who:
- gets medical treatment
- takes time off work beyond the day of the injury
- does different or less work because of the accident or injury
If, because of your illness or injury, you:
- need medical treatment
- are off work beyond the day of your accident
- have to perform different or fewer work duties
- have a permanent injury (amputation, hearing loss, etc.)
You must complete a Worker's Report of Injury or Occupational Disease form and send it to the WCB as soon as possible. Any other information such as a list of witnesses is also useful; please include this information with your Worker's Report of Injury form. Remember to include your name, Social Insurance Number, date of birth, and your employer's name.
Questions on completing the Worker's Report of Injury or Occupational Disease can be answered by WCB. Call toll-free anywhere in Alberta 1-866- WCB-WCB1 (1-866-922-9221)
The WCB Policy and Information Manual explains workers' compensation in greater detail. A worker can have another person, like a friend, co worker, or family member fill in the Worker's Report of Injury or Occupational Disease with the worker.
After sending in the report, a worker can contact the WCB to learn whether or not she or he will get compensation.
While you are off from work because of a work injury or illness
If you disagree with the decision of the WCB, you can appeal the decision and ask the WCB to change its decision or parts of its decision concerning whether or not you receive benefits, the type of benefits you receive, and the amount and length of time you receive benefits.
There are many steps to questioning a decision. The Appeals Commission can work with you on appealing a WCB decision, and the services provided by Appeals advisors are free of charge.
A worker appealing a WCB decision can get a copy of her or his WCB file by calling the Access to Information unit at WCB.
For more information regarding the WCB, contact them at:
Workers' Compensation Board of Alberta
P.O. Box 2415
Edmonton AB T5J 2S5
Toll free in Alberta: 1-866-922-9221
Claims toll free fax: 1-800-661-1993 (in Alberta)
Statutory holidays are days designated by government to mark or commemorate a special occasion or event. Canada has several national statutory holidays and every province also has some designated statutory holidays. Employees who meet qualifying requirements are entitled to a paid holiday or, if they are required to work, extra wages for the day.
There are nine statutory holidays in Alberta:
- New Year's Day
- Family Day (3rd Monday of February)
- Good Friday
- Victoria Day
- Canada Day
- Labour Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Remembrance Day
- Christmas Day
Employees in Alberta do not have the right to refuse to work on a public holiday if their employer requests that they do so.
Employees are eligible for holiday pay if they:
- worked their last scheduled shift before, and the first scheduled shift after, the holiday and
- have not refused to work on the general holiday when asked to do so.
Employees who have an irregular schedule are entitled to holiday pay, if in at least five of the nine weeks before the holiday, they worked on the same day of the week as the one on which the holiday falls. General holiday and general holiday pay is calculated as 5% of wages from the previous four weeks worked.
- Statutory Holiday Pay
If you work on a holiday that is normally a scheduled work day, you are entitled to receive either:
- your average daily wage plus 1.5 times the regular rate for each hour worked, or
- your regular wage plus another day off with pay.
If you work on a holiday that is not normally scheduled as a work day, you are entitled to receive 1.5 times your wage.
If you do not work on a holiday which is a regular working day, you are entitled to at least your average daily wage. The average daily wage is based on the days worked in the nine weeks preceding the holiday.
If you are paid entirely by commission or incentive based pay, the wage rate is deemed to be the minimum wage. If you are paid partly by commission or incentive-based pay, then the wage rate is deemed to be the greater of the salary component or the minimum wage.
An employee is entitled to at least his or her average daily wage if the holiday falls on a regular working day and does not work that day. The average daily wage is based on the days worked in the nine weeks - or, if less, the employee's period of employment - immediately preceding the general holiday.
If a general holiday occurs during your annual vacation, you must be given a holiday with pay on what would have been the first day back to work or on another day.
If a holiday falls on a non-working day other than a vacation day, you are not entitled to another day off.
The regular work week is 8 hours a day and 44 hours a week. Any time worked above this is considered overtime.
Your hours of work in any given day must be confined within a period of 12 consecutive hours, unless an accident occurs, urgent work is necessary, or other unforeseen or unpreventable circumstances occur.
In other words, under normal circumstances, if you start work at 8:00 am, you cannot work past 8:00 p.m.
- Rest Periods
You must be given at least a 30 minute break within every 5 consecutive hours you work. The break can be paid or unpaid at the employers discretion. The 30 minutes can be taken in one unbroken period but may be provided as two 15-minute or three 10-minute breaks.
You are entitled to:
- One day off a week.
- 2 days off in a row for every 2 consecutive weeks worked
- 3 days off in a row for every 3 consecutive weeks worked.
- 4 days off in a row for every 4 consecutive weeks worked.
Employees cannot be required to work more than 24 consecutive days unless the period is followed by at least four consecutive days of rest.
- Hours of Work Averaging Agreements
You can be made or allowed to work a compressed work week, under an hours of work averaging agreement, which can determine overtime eligibility over a period of 1-12 weeks. Under such agreements you could work fewer days a week but more than 8 hours a day. You won't get overtime until you go over the maximum 44 hours a week, but you still cannot be made to work more than 12 hours a day.
Some employers and workplaces have work averaging agreements that govern overtime and scheduling. These agreements can be entered into at the request of a group of employees or employer. HWAAs can be entered into as part of a collective agreement. They must be in writing between an individual or group of employees and the employer and include:
- start and end date
- term of agreement that cannot exceed 2 years unless it is part of a collective agreement and terminates the day a subsequent collective agreement is entered into
- number of weeks the hours will be averaged over (up to 12 weeks)
- work schedule which identifies all the work days and the number of hours to be worked on each of those work days in the averaging period
- only one work schedule per agreement
- scheduled daily and weekly hours of work cannot exceed:
- 12 hours per day, and
- 44 hours per week or an average of 44 hours per week
- how overtime pay and time off with pay will be calculated
For example, you could be required to work 11-hour shifts for four days and not receive overtime pay.
Overtime is all hours worked in excess of:
- 8 hours a day, and/or
- 44 hours a week.
Overtime hours are calculated on both a daily and on a weekly basis. The higher total is the overtime hours worked in the week.
All employees, including those who are paid a weekly, monthly, or annual salary, must be paid overtime pay for overtime hours they work.
Overtime must be paid at the rate of at least 1.5 times the employee's regular wage rate.
Generally speaking, workers do not have the right to refuse overtime work.
A common exception to paying overtime is the signing of an overtime agreement. An overtime agreement allows overtime hours to be banked and taken off with pay. Straight-time bank hour arrangements are possible as of June 26th, 2019 but must be agreed to by the employee.
- can be between an employer and a single employee or with a group of employees, or the overtime agreement can be part of a collective agreement.
- must calculate overtime hours the same way as it would be if overtime pay is to be paid at time-and-a-half.
- must be in writing and employees must be given a copy of the agreement.
Time off must be taken within three months of the end of the pay period in which the overtime was earned. If time off is not taken, overtime hours must be paid out at time-and-a-half.
Some industries and occupations have different rules for when overtime is payable. Ambulance attendants, trucking, and taxi cabs all have different rules for overtime. The full list can be found here: https://www.alberta.ca/overtime-hours-overtime-pay.aspx
- Schedules and Changes to Schedules
All employers must notify employees of when work starts or ends by posting notices where they can be seen or by other reasonable methods.
You cannot be forced to change from one shift to another unless you have been given at least 24 hours notice and at least 8 hours of rest between shifts.
Alberta law also protects workers from discrimination in the workplace. The primary legislation that covers human rights in Alberta is the Alberta Human Rights Act.
Except in cases of bona fide occupational requirements, employers are prohibited from discriminating against individuals when placing job advertising, accepting applications, employing an individual or setting the terms of conditions because of a person's:
- religious beliefs
- gender identity
- gender expression
- physical disability
- mental disability
- place of origin
- marital status
- source of income or
- family status
The Act also has provisions regarding pay equity between men and women. Section 6 of the act states:
Where employees of both sexes perform the same or substantially similar work for an employer in an establishment the employer
shall pay the employees at the same rate of pay.
There are three important, but different ideas we're talking about when we say pay equity. They are:
- Equal Pay for Equal Work - address the more overt form of discrimination in wages on the basis of gender. It involves direct comparison of jobs occupied by the opposite genders where the job is the same or basically the same.
- Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value - provides for reducing the wage gap by comparing jobs of a different nature that are considered "male" or "female" jobs.
- Pay Equity Laws - refers to legislated programs that aim to achieve equity in pay in an organized manner. Pay equity laws are most often proactive in that they don't require a complaint to be filed in order to achieve their goal. They use specific targets and deadlines and the collective bargaining process to achieve their aims.
The Human Rights Act also states that no union or occupational association can exclude a person from membership, expel or suspend a member or discriminate against a member in any way because of the reasons above.
Generally, employers have the right to terminate employees, and employees have the right to quit. These rights come with some responsibilities, primarily to provide adequate notice. The length of such notice is normally dependent on the duration of the employment with the employer.
In theory your boss has no right to fire you for using your legal rights, because you're pregnant or because of your race or other forms of discrimination. Generally, you can't be fired for union activities or for filing a complaint under labour standards. Unfortunately, employers all too often fire workers without just cause or in violation of their rights and there is often little a worker in Alberta can do about it.
All employees who have been employed continuously for more than three months are entitled to termination notice or pay if notice is not given. The amount of notice you are entitled to depends on how long you've been working.
The minimum notice that employers must give is:
- 1 week for employment of more than 3 months, but less than 2 years
- 2 weeks for employment of 2 years, but less than 4 years,
- 4 weeks for employment of 4 years, but less than 6 years,
- 5 weeks for employment of 6 years, but less than 8 years,
- 6 weeks for employment of 8 years, but less than 10 years, and
- 8 weeks for employment of 10 years or more.
An employer can give pay for the required notice period instead of providing notice or give a combination of written notice and pay. The employer must pay all wages, overtime, general holiday pay and vacation pay within three days following termination.
Employees who wish to quit are also required to give written notice:
- 1 week for employment of more than three months, but less than two years
- 2 weeks for employment of 2 years or more.
If you give proper notice, the employer must pay all earnings to you within three days following termination of employment. If you quit without proper notice all earnings are due to you within 10 days after the date on which the notice would have expired if it had been given.
There are a number of circumstances notice of termination is not required, mostly in circumstances where termination is for "just cause," such as:
- willful misconduct,
- disobedience, or
- deliberate neglect of duty
Employers can also terminate employment without notice when:
- the employee was hired for a definite term or task of less than 12 months,
- the employee was laid off after refusing an offer by the employer of reasonable alternative work,
- the employee refuses work made available through a seniority system,
- the employee is not provided with work because a strike or lockout is taking place at the employee's place of employment,
- the employee is employed under an agreement by which the employee may elect either to work or not to work for a temporary period when requested by the employer,
- the contract of employment is or has become impossible for the employer to perform by reason of unforeseeable or unpreventable causes beyond the control of the employer,
- the employee was hired on a seasonal basis and at the end of the season the employment is terminated,
- the employee is on temporary layoff and does not return to work within seven days after being requested to do so in writing by the employer,
- the employee is in the construction industry,
- the employee is employed in the cutting, removal, burning or other disposal of trees and/or brush for the primary purpose of clearing land.
When an employee's employment is terminated for just cause, the employer must be able to support the position that they had just cause and must pay all earnings due to you within ten days following the date of termination.
As an employee, you are not required to give termination notice if:
- your health or safety is at risk by continuing to work
- continuing to work becomes impossible due to unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances beyond your control
- you are temporarily laid off
- no work is provided to the employee because there is a strike or lockout at your place of employment
- you are employed under an agreement by which the you may elect either to work or not to work for a temporary period when requested by the employer
- the employer reduces your wage rate, overtime rate, vacation pay, general holiday pay or termination pay.
- Temporary Layoffs
Your boss doesn't have to give notice or pay compensation if you're laid off temporarily. A layoff is not considered temporary if you have been laid off for 60 days within a 120 day period, in which case you are considered to be terminated and entitled to termination pay. But there are some exceptions:
- If, after your layoff began, you and your boss agreed that you would get wages or an amount instead of wages. In this case, you're eligible for termination pay only when the agreement ends.
- If your boss is making payments towards your pension or insurance plan, or a similar benefit. After your job ends, you're eligible for termination pay when the payments stop.
- If you're unionized, and your contract has recall rights. Your job ends and you get termination pay when the recall rights expire.
Your employer has to ask you to return to work in writing. If you don't go back within 7 days, your boss can let you go without further notice or termination pay.
If you are let go while on temporary lay-off, you're still entitled to termination pay.
Temporary layoff rules do not apply to school workers and school bus drivers when the summer break exceeds 59 days.
Vacation and Maternity/ Parental Leave
Vacations and vacation pay are legal rights to ensure that employees have a rest from work without loss of income.
- Vacation Time
In Alberta, you are entitled to annual vacations, depending on how long you have worked:
- after one year of employment, you are entitled to two weeks vacation with pay,
- after five years, you are entitled to three weeks vacation with pay.
You must take your vacation within 12 months after you become entitled to the vacation.
Vacations must be given in one unbroken period unless you request to take your vacation in shorter periods. These periods must last at least one day long.
If a mutually acceptable time for your vacation cannot be found, the employer can decide on the time, but you must receive at least two weeks notice in writing of the start date of the vacation.
- Vacation Pay
If you are paid an hourly wage, vacation pay is:
- 4 per cent of your wages for the first 4 years of employment
- 6 per cent of your wages for the 5th and all subsequent years.
If you are paid a monthly salary, you are entitled to receive your regular rate of pay for your vacation time.
You are entitled to your vacation pay on the next regularly scheduled payday or at the request of the employee, at least one day before the vacation begins. Many employers simply add your vacation pay onto your regular paycheque.
- Maternity and Parental Leave
Birth Mothers can take up to 16 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. Parents are also entitled to take up 62 weeks of unpaid parental leave. Parental leave can be taken by both the birth mother, the other parent, adoptive parents, or shared between both parents.
To be eligible for maternity and/or parental leave, you must have 90 days of employment with your employer, whether you are a full-time or part-time employee.
Maternity leave can begin at any time within 12 weeks of the estimated date of delivery.
Parental leave can begin at any time after the birth or adoption of the child but it must be completed within 52 weeks of the date a baby is born or an adopted child is placed with the parent.
The following conditions apply to maternity and/or paternal leave:
- During the twelve weeks before the estimated date of delivery, the employer can require the employee to start maternity leave if the pregnancy is interfering with job performance. The employee must be notified in writing.
- An employee, who takes both maternity leave and parental leave, must take the leaves consecutively.
- An employee must take at least six weeks of maternity leave after the birth of their child, unless the employee provides a medical certificate indicating that resumption of work is not a health risk.
- If both parents work for the same employer, the employer is not required to grant leave to both employees at the same time.
- Giving Notice
You must give the employer at least six weeks written notice about when you intend to start maternity leave or parental leave. The employer may demand a medical certificate certifying pregnancy and giving the estimated date of delivery.
If the employee fails to give the necessary notice she is still entitled to maternity leave if she notifies the employer within 2 weeks of her last day at work and provides a medical certificate.
An employee who takes maternity leave is not required to give her employer notice before going on parental leave, unless she originally agreed only to take 16 weeks of maternity leave.
Parents will still be eligible for the leave if medical reasons, or circumstances related to the adoption, prevent the employee from giving this notice. When this happens, written notice must be given to the employer as soon as possible.
If you intend to share parental leave with your partner, you must advise your respective employers of your intention to do so.
You must give at least four weeks written notice that you intend to return to work or to change the return date. This notice must be provided at least four weeks before the end of the leave. An employer does not have to reinstate an employee until four weeks after receipt of this notice.
If you fail to provide this notice, or fail to report to work the day after the leave ends, the employer is under no obligation to reinstate you unless the failure is the result of unforeseen or unpreventable circumstances.
You are also required to provide four weeks written notice if you do not intend to return to work after the leave ends.
Employers may choose to extend leave beyond 52 weeks, but they are under no legal obligation to do so.
- Employer Obligations
An employer cannot terminate an employee on maternity or parental leave, unless the employer suspends or discontinues the business.
Employees returning from maternity or parental leave must be reinstated in the same or a comparable position with earnings and other benefits at least equal to those received when the leave began.
If the business has been suspended or discontinued during the employee's maternity or parental leave, the employee has hiring priority if the business starts up again within 12 months after the end of the leave.
Human rights legislation also imposes certain obligations regarding the duty to accommodate pregnant employees and with respect to the application of sick leave provisions.
Depending on the nature of your problem or complaint, there are a number of places to get help or file a complaint.
- Employment Standards
Most complaints related to work are covered by employment standards. If you think your boss has violated your employment rights (such as payment, holidays, etc.) contact your local Employment Standards Office. To find your local office, call the province-wide Employment Standards number toll-free by dialing 310-0000, then dialing (780) 427-3731.
The Employment Standards website is: http://www.employment.alberta.ca/SFW/1224.html
Complaints can be made at any time during employment or within six months of leaving a job. If you are still employed, keep in mind that your boss will be notified and will receive a copy of the complaint. This makes it difficult to file complaints since, even though it is illegal, many employers retaliate against employees who file complaints.
- Human Rights
A person who thinks their human rights have been violated can file a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission.
To call toll-free within Alberta, dial 310-0000 and then enter the area code and phone number.
Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission
Northern Regional Office
800 Standard Life Centre
10405 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4R7
Confidential Inquiry Line: (780) 427-7661
Fax: (780) 427-6013
Southern Regional Office
200 John J. Bowlen Building
620 - 7 Avenue SW
Calgary AB T2P 0Y8
Confidential Inquiry Line: 403-297-6571
For province-wide free access from a cellular phone, enter *310 (for Rogers Wireless) or #310 (for Telus and Bell).
TTY service for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing
Edmonton: (780) 427-1597
Calgary: (403) 297-5639
Toll-free within Alberta 1-800-232-7215
E-mail: [email protected]
The Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission website is: http://www.albertahumanrights.ab.ca
A complaint must be made to the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission within one year after the alleged incident.
- Workplace Health and Safety
Workplace health and safety falls under the jurisdiction of Alberta Human Resources and Employment.
For general information about Workplace Health and Safety, contact the Call Centre at 1-866-415-8690 or fax to (780) 422-3730.
Deaf or hearing impaired with TDD/TTY units call (780) 427-9999 (Edmonton) or 1-800-232-7215 in other locations.
Email: [email protected].
The website for Workplace Health and Safety is: http://www.employment.alberta.ca/SFW/53.html
- Workers' Compensation Board
For all general inquiries to the Alberta Workers' Compensation Board, contact:
Toll-free anywhere in Alberta 1-866- WCB-WCB1 (1-866-922-9221)
9912 - 107 Street, Edmonton
PO Box 2415
Edmonton, AB T5J 2S5
Communications Terminal for the Deaf, Hearing and Speech Impaired number is 780-498-7895
The Workers' Compensation Board website is www.wcb.ab.ca
- Other Help
If you're not sure where to turn to or if you have general inquiries about work in Alberta, you can contact the Alberta Federation of Labour.
If you have specific questions or need help with a health and safety issue, you can contact the Alberta Workers' Health Centre at:
Toll Free: 1-888-729-4879
In Edmonton: (780) 486-9009
Fax: (780) 483-7632
Email: [email protected]
300, 10140 - 117 Street
Edmonton, AB T5K 1X3
The Alberta Workers' Health Centre website is: www.workershealthcentre.ca
- Get Copies of Legislation
Legislation that covers you as a worker is available free of charge on-line from the Alberta Queen's Printers, and hard copies are also available for a charge.
The most common legislation you may need to reference is at:Employment Standards Code
Employment Standards Regulation
Labour Relations Code
Workers' Compensation Act
Workers' Compensation Regulation
Alberta Human Rights Act
Contact the Alberta Queen's Printer:
Main Floor, Park Plaza
10611 - 98 Avenue,
Edmonton, AB T5K 2P7
Phone: (780) 427-4952
Fax: (780) 452-0668
Office hours: 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday - Friday (except statutory holidays).
You can call the Queen's Printer toll-free in Alberta by dialing 310-0000 followed by the 10 digit phone number of the office you wish to contact.
The Alberta Queen's Printer website is http://www.qp.alberta.ca