On July 29, 2020, Bill 32: Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act, 2020 (“Bill 32”) received royal assent. Bill 32 brings a number of amendments to both the Alberta Employment Standards Code (“ESC”) and Labour Relations Code. While much of Bill 32 is now law, some of its amendments will take effect on November 1, 2020. This article discusses the key amendments to the ESC under Bill 32 that will take effect on November 1, 2020.
Hours of work averaging agreements
Under the current ESC, employers and employees can enter into an hours of work averaging agreement (“HWAA”) to average employees’ hours of work over a certain period to avoid triggering overtime pay for employers with certain work schedules (e.g. employees working on two-weeks-on/two-weeks-off rotations). Under the current regime, employers require consent from affected employees before implementing a HWAA; the maximum averaging period is 12 weeks; and all HWAAs must have a fixed term (i.e. have an end date).
Once the November 1, 2020 amendments take effect, the new method to average employee hours under the ESC will be through “averaging arrangements”. Unlike a HWAA, an averaging arrangement does not require employee consent and can be implemented unilaterally. Further, the maximum averaging period will be increased to 52 weeks, and averaging arrangements will not need to have an end date.
Deductions for overpayment
On November 1, 2020, employers will be permitted to make unilateral deductions to employee wages for: i) overpayments of earnings; and ii) overpayments of vacation pay, so long as the employer provides written notice of the deduction and the deduction is made within six months of the overpayment. This will be a more efficient process than what is required under the current regime, which requires employers to obtain employee consent prior to a deduction for overpayment.
Final pay after termination
Under the current regime, an employee’s final pay must be paid no later than three days after the last day of employment. Once the November 1, 2020 amendments take effect, employers will have the discretion to pay out a terminated employee on or before either: i) 10 consecutive days after the end of the pay period in which the termination of employment occurs; or ii) 31 consecutive days after the last day of employment. This amendment should ease the administrative burden caused by processing payments for terminated employees outside of the usual payroll cycle and on a rush basis.
This article provides only general information about legal issues and developments, and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Please see our disclaimer for more details.