The Government of Alberta has made changes to the Employment Standards Code to better support both employers and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes take effect immediately and will be in place as long as government determines they are needed and the public health emergency order remains in place.
One of the biggest changes is that the period for a temporary layoff has been extended from 60 days to 120 days. This allows employees who have been laid off temporarily to stay attached to a job longer, and gives employers additional time to recall the employee before they are considered terminated. This change is retroactive for any temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 that occurred on or after March 17. The AHLA had raised the need for an extension to the temporary layoff period to the Ministers of Labour and Economic Development, Trade & Tourism, and is pleased that the government has made this change.
Other changes include:
- Employees caring for children affected by school and daycare closures or ill or self-isolated family members because of COVID-19 will be eligible for unpaid job-protected leave. The 90-day employment requirement is waived and leave length is flexible. A medical note is not required.
- Improving scheduling flexibility by removing the 24-hour written notice requirement for shift changes. Employees must still have eight hours of rest between shifts. In addition, two weeks’ notice is not necessary for changes to work schedules for those under an averaging agreement.
- Removing the requirement to provide the group termination notice to employees and unions when 50 or more employees are being terminated. However, the Minister of Labour & Immigration must be notified as soon as possible.
- Streamlining the process for approvals related to modifying employment standards so employers and workers can respond more quickly to changing conditions at the workplace because of the public health emergency.
The AHLA is pleased the government is acknowledging the extraordinary circumstances within which hotels and other businesses are currently operating. We will continue to work with the government to find effective ways to support hotels during the pandemic.