Province announces changes to workplace legislation

By Ashley Wiebe
May 24, 2017 - 5:18pm Updated: May 24, 2017 - 7:11pm


EDMONTON, AB — A new bill introduced in the legislature on Wednesday means changes for Alberta families and the way they work.

The Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act would make sure the province has modern and fair labour laws to better protect workers in Alberta.

The changes would allow workers to take unpaid leave to look after themselves and their loved ones without fear of losing their jobs.

Changes include extending maternity leave from 15 to 16 weeks and extending compassionate care leave from eight weeks to 27.

The bill also includes guaranteed job protection for unpaid leave, which includes long-term illness and injury leave to domestic violence leave.

Labour Minister Christina Gray said it has been nearly 30 years since the province’s employment standards code was reviewed and it was time Alberta caught up with the rest of Canada.

“The proposed new standards would give parents of critically ill children, victims fleeing domestic violence and those suffering from short-term illness or mourning the loss of a loved one, the time off they need to take care of themselves and their responsibilities,” Gray said. “Albertans should not have to choose between taking care of their family and keeping their job.”

Gray said many employers are already meeting and exceeding the proposed changes, but said there are still some employers out there who aren’t offering their employees things like sick time.

Bill 17 would change that.

Gray said employers who mistreat their staff will face penalties when necessary, and added that names of repeat offenders will be published so the public can see who hasn’t been treating their workers fairly.

If the bill passes, Gray said her ministry would work hard to make sure everyone understands what they’re entitled to.

“My ministry is planning to produce brochures and pamphlets, online information and online training, individual presentations with various employer groups to help make sure that this rolls out smoothly and the information gets out to employers and workers where it needs to be,” she said.

If the legislation is passed, the changes would take effect in 2018.

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