The Government of Alberta has released changes to the Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code that will impact all employers. These changes will go into effect January 1, 2018.  The Alberta Government has done a great job of summarizing the changes to the Employment Standards Code here and the changes to the Labour Relations Code here.  Another good article that summarizes the changes well is this one from Slaw.

So many changes, so little time . . .  What’s the best way to make sure your organization is ready?  Here are a few hints that are sure to help:

1.     Communicate – Make sure your team know that you are aware of the changes and that your organization will be ready in January.  You have five or so months until these changes come into effect, that’s lots of time to make sure they are implemented correctly.

It is very important to make sure your HR team reads the new legislation, attends education sessions, lunch and learns, etc. to make sure they completely understand the changes.  They will be the ones advising internally, and implementing the changes, in your organization.

If you are a unionized employer, take time to talk to your union leader about how the changes will impact your unionized employees and how to reflect those changes in your collective agreements.

Employers need to stay current on the proposed changes and understand the impact that it will have on your workplace.

2.     Update Policies, Procedures and Processes – Review and update all internal policy, procedure and process documents.  Make sure that the maternity/paternity, unpaid leave, overtime, etc. provisions are addressed in your corporate documents, including your collective agreements.

Have a plan as to how your organization will handle extended leaves such as Compassionate Care Leave, which has changed from 8 weeks to 27 weeks.

3.     Update your Terminations and Temporary Layoff Processes – Alberta is still going through tumultuous times with commodity prices remaining low.  Companies are still laying off employees and we have seen an increase in acquisitions.  All of this means that there could still be group terminations happening in 2018.  The onus on employers will increase with some of these new provisions.  Make sure you are aware of your responsibilities for group terminations and other termination or temporary layoff practices to ensure you comply with the Code.

4.     Update your HR Systems – Whether you have your own HR system or someone is managing it for you, you need to make sure that your system is ready for the changes.  New unpaid leave codes should be set up and tested to ensure they are working correctly.  Overtime banking provisions have changed, make sure these changes are reflected in your HR system.  If employees are eligible for Vacation Pay, make sure those changes are correctly implemented as well.

5.     Review your Budget – As an employer, it is important to understand how these changes will impact your bottom line.  Most companies go into budget planning in the fall so now is the perfect time to be thinking about budget impacts as a result of these changes.

As a final note, the Government of Alberta has introduced administrative penalties that will require employers to pay if they contravene or fail to comply with the Employment Standards Code or regulations.

If you have questions, please go to the Alberta Government website for more information.

If you need help implementing these changes in your organization or any other HR related challenges, please contact ACTivate HR by giving us a call or sending us an email to info@activatehr.ca . . .  and don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn.

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