Alberta to Revamp Employment Standards

Alberta Bill 32, Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act, 2020, includes extensive amendments to the Employment Standards Code. Bill 32 is still making its way through the Alberta legislature. In the meantime, if you have employees in Alberta, here is a quick review of what you need to know.

Termination of Employment

  • Group Termination: Employers will no longer have to provide notice of group terminations to the employees or the union, and the notice which must be given to the Minister will be reduced to 4 weeks. More specifically, an employer who intends to terminate the employment of 50 or more employees at a single location within a 4-week period must give the Minister written notice at least 4 weeks before the date the first termination is to take effect.
  • Temporary Lay-offs: Instead of deeming employment to be terminated after an employee has been laid off for one or more periods of “60 days within a 120- day period”, employment will be terminated and termination pay will be payable after an employee is laid off for one or more periods of  “90 days within a 120-day period”.
  • Final Pay Timeline: The deadline for paying an employee’s final pay after termination of employment will be extended. The employer will be required to pay the employee’s earnings within:
    • 10 consecutive days after the end of the pay period in which the termination of employment occurs; or
    • 31 consecutive days after the last day of employment.

Wages & Payments

  • Deductions: Employers will be permitted to make deductions from wages for overpayments and unearned vacation pay.

Hours of Work

  • Rest Periods: There are new rest requirements where an employee’s shift is 10 hours or more, or where an employer and an employee do not agree on a rest period schedule for a shift.
  • Averaging Agreements: Employers may require or permit non-union employees to work pursuant to an averaging arrangement for up to 52 weeks (currently 12 weeks).
  • Unionized Employees: Collective agreements may provide for different hours of work and days of rest restrictions.

Public Holidays

  • Public Holiday Pay: The calculation of average daily wage of an employee (for purposes of public holidays) is changed to: averaging the employee’s total wages in a 4-week period (as determined by the employer) over the number of days worked by the employee during the period.


  • Permits groups of employers or employer associations (as well as individual employers) to apply for variances (i.e., exemptions) from the Code.