What are Your Rights as a Worker in Alberta
General Driving/Collision Resources
- The Alberta Employment Standards
- The Alberta Employment Standards are minimum standards required by law. As an employee, you cannot sign them away.
- Almost all employees in Alberta fall under provincial labor standards with some exceptions.
- Alberta Employment Standards code can be found here:
- Employment Contract
- An employment contract is a contract between an employer and an employee. All employees have contracts of employment with their employers. Contracts can be in writing or verbal.
- You are recommended to sign a physical contract with your employer, so both you and your employer understand the employment terms and conditions.
- Each detail is a term of the contract and are often negotiable. The Employment Standards Code entitles you to certain minimums, which your employer must provide to you.
- A sample checklist of what to look for in your work contract can be found here: Checklist – What to look for before signing
- Pay and Deductions
- Employers must pay their employees at least once a month (or use one of these pay periods: daily, weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly) along with a pay statement. Employees must be paid in Canadian dollars.
- Money taken off your pay is called deductions. Legal deductions are made to your pay and the reason must be stated on your pay statement.
- Aside from CPP, EI, or other pre-authorized agreements in writing such as dental plans, RRSP, etc., employers cannot take money off your pay.
- Basic rules of deductions from earnings: https://www.alberta.ca/deductions-from-earnings.aspx
- Deductions not allowed:
- Uniforms, except for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in which case the employee must first agree to the deduction in writing. In most cases, employers pay for all PPE.
- Your employer cannot deduct your earnings if missing cash or property occurs or if you fail to collect payments from customers, e.g. when you work in retail (shop, restaurant, etc.); money lost from theft.
- Job-Protected Leaves
Job-protected leaves include personal and family responsibility leave, maternity, and parental leave, critical illness leave, citizenship ceremony leave, long-term illness, and injury leave, bereavement leave, compassionate care leave, etc.
Visit this link to read more about job-protected leaves: https://www.alberta.ca/job-protected-leaves.aspx
- An employer cannot terminate an employee on maternity or parental leave unless the employer suspends or end the business.
- Employees returning from maternity or parental leave must be returned to the same or a comparable position with earnings and other benefits at least equal to those received when the leave began.
- Safety in the Workplace
- Workers in Alberta have a right to refuse work which they believe puts them or other workers in immediate danger. The provincial government’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act explains this: https://www.alberta.ca/occupational-health-safety.aspx
- The procedure to refuse unsafe work:
- The worker should report immediately to the supervisor or safety representative the concern and refusal to work.
- The supervisor investigates, fixes, and reports back to the worker the repairs and changes.
- After that, if the worker still believes the work is unsafe, they can file a complaint with workplace health and safety at 1-866-415-8690.
- Workers must continue to be paid while a work refusal is being investigated.
- Employers must investigate in cooperation with the joint worksite health and safety committee or health and safety representative, if applicable.
- Employers cannot take or threaten discriminatory action against a worker for exercising their rights and duties under the legislation.
- Workplace Injuries
- If you are seriously injured at work or fall 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 if so, what your compensation will include.
- Steps to take after workplace injuries occur:
- After an injury occurs, get first aid, then report to your supervisor.
- Next, see a doctor right away and let them know your injury was work related. Give the doctor all the facts needed to complete a medical report for WCB.
- It is important that you report a claim to the Alberta Workers Compensation Board as soon as possible.
- Your employer is required by law to report the incident to WCB within 72 hours.
- To contact the WCB, call toll-free anywhere in Alberta: 1-866- WCB-WCB1 (1-866-922-9221).
- Once the claim is accepted, you are evaluated for benefits, including wage replacement (lost income during injury), medical benefits (drugs, counseling, dental, chiropractic, braces, crutches, hearing aids, etc.), fatality and survivor benefit (support to family), and/or expense reimbursements (transportation, home and vehicle modifications).
- Filing Complaints in the Workplace
- Talking to an employer is the first step in trying to resolve an employment standards issue in the workplace.
- If you think your boss has violated your employment rights (e.g. payment, holidays, etc.), please contact your local Employment Standards Office. https://www.alberta.ca/file-employment-standards-complaint.aspx
- File a complaint online https://escs.alberta.ca/Complainant/Claim/GettingStarted.aspx
- An employer cannot end an employee’s employment because they made or are about to make a complaint.
- In most cases, you can make complaints under employment standards while you are employed, or up to 6 months after the last day of your employment.
- If you are treated unfairly and need legal help, you can access Workers’ Resource Center: https://www.helpwrc.org/
- If you have a complaint about racism and discrimination, keep documentation, and connect with representation such as WRC to file a complaint with Alberta Human Rights, within 1 year of the incident.
- Employers have the option of letting workers go for any reason. Notice is not required an employee is fired for “just cause” such as stealing. Termination notice is not required for seasonal or task-specific employment.
- Employers must provide notice or payout if a worker is let go. How much notice or payout entitled depends on the duration of employment:
- 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
- Keep in mind that if you resign from any job, you cannot apply for Employment Insurance (EI).
Alberta Employment Standards – Minimum standards required by law that protects workers in Alberta, addressing minimum wage, overtime, vacation, hours of work, earnings, etc.
Claim – An application for compensation under the terms of an insurance policy.
Compensation – Cash or non-cash payments given to a worker to make up for loss or injury.
Complaint – A statement that a situation is not acceptable or satisfactory.
Canada Pension Plan (CPP) – Canada Pension Plan is a taxable benefit provided to you monthly which may become part of your income when you retire.
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) – Canada Revenue Agency is a part of the Canadian government that deals with tax laws.
Deduction – An amount of money taken from one’s income.
Discriminate – To treat someone in a negative way because of skin color, sex, age, race, etc.
Employment Contract – A written agreement between an employer and employee with employment terms and conditions.
Employment Insurance (EI) – A program that provides short-term income support to unemployed workers while they look for new jobs or to improve their skills.
Entitled – Having a legal right to receive something.
First aid – Immediate help for a sick or injured person.
Notice – The act of formally declaring one’s intention to end an employment contract.
Overtime – Time worked beyond one’s scheduled working hours.
Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act – Alberta law setting minimum standards for safe and healthy practices in Alberta workplaces.
Paycheck – Salary or wages paid out to an employee.
Probation Period – The first 3 months of employment which is a trial period, during which employers can let an employee go without advanced notice.
Reimbursement – An amount of money paid to cover what has been spent or lost.
Resolution – The action of solving a rights violation.
Rights violation – The action of not respecting one’s rights.
Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) – Agency that provides compensation to workers who suffer work-related injuries during employment
#1. What should you do before formally accepting a written job offer?
#2. Which statement about workplace safety is correct?
#3. In Alberta, employees are entitled to a 30-minute paid or unpaid break every ____ hours of work?
#4. Which one of the following is not a deduction made to paychecks as required by law?
#5. If you believe your rights are violated in the workplace and the violation involves employment standards, what is the most appropriate action?
Acknowledgements of Actors:
Andrea G., Francisco S., Jimmy S., Chris C.
Special thanks to the Workers’ Resource Centre for assistance in content development.
Special thanks to Rick, Paul, and the wonderful team at M.I.Cable Technologies Inc. for the invaluable support and providing a venue for filming.
- Alberta Employment Standards Code
- AB Government: OHS, Employment Standards
- Workers’ Compensation Board
- Workers’ Resource Centre (Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer, near future Edmonton)
- Legal Assistance
- CLG: http://clg.ab.ca/
- Edmonton Community Legal Guidance: http://www.eclc.ca/
- Lethbridge Legal Guidance: http://www.lethbridgelegalguidance.ca/
- Central Alberta Community Legal Clinic (Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Lloydminster, Fort McMurray): http://www.communitylegalclinic.net/