Frequently Asked Questions
What are Alberta’s minimum employment standards?
The minimum standards of employment are set out in Alberta’s employment standards legislation. All Alberta employers are expected to fully comply with them. Some of the standards include minimum wage, overtime, and maternity and parental leave. For more information, see Standards and Definitions.
Who is subject to Alberta’s minimum standards?
The exceptions are employers and employees who fall under federal legislation, including employees of the federal government or those in industries such as banking, interprovincial trucking or radio and television. For more information, see Federal Employment Standards.
As well, certain minimum standards do not apply to farm or ranch employers engaged in certain listed primary production, or a primary agricultural employer that produces cultured fish. Exempted from certain minimum standards are those who employ:
- ambulance attendants,
- construction industry employees
- oilwell servicing industry employees,
- taxi cab industry employees,
- trucking industry employees, and
- others listed in the Regulation.
To learn more, please see the Employment Standards Regulation.
Are there are any resources available to help me comply with the Code?
Yes. The Employment Standards Tool Kit for Employers provides concise explanations of Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Regulation, including real-world examples, best practice guidelines, templates, checklists and sample letter. Or you can order a copy from the Employment Standards Contact Centre at 780‑427‑3731 or 1‑877‑427‑3731.
How do I file a complaint with Employment Standards?
If you have concerns about pay, hours of work, vacation and similar matters, you may file a complaint with Employment Standards. There are two ways to file a complaint with Employment Standards: You can submit a complaint electronically or complete the Complaint by Employee Form.
How do I appeal an Employment Standards Officer’s decision?
If the officer determines that the employee is not owed any earnings, was not suspended, terminated or laid off in accordance with the Code, or where the officer refuses to accept or investigate a complaint, the officer must serve the employee with notice of that decision (formal Decision of Officer). The decision, along with reasons, will be served to the employee with a “Notice of Appeal” (re: Decision of Officer) form. The employer will also be informed of the decision. If the employee disagrees with the reasons for the decision, he or she must file a written notice of appeal with the Director of Employment Standards within 21 days from the date the notice of decision was served on him or her. The written notice of appeal must specify the reason for the appeal.
For more information, see the Complaint Resolution Process Fact Sheet.
When and how must employees be paid?
Employees must be paid at least once per month. Most employers establish pay periods of a week, two weeks or a month. Employees must be paid within 10 days after the end of each pay period.
Employees may be paid in cash, by cheque, money order or by direct deposit into an account of an employee’s choice at any recognized financial institution.
Can an employer reduce an employee’s earnings?
If an employer intends to reduce an employee’s wage rate, overtime rate, general holiday pay, vacation pay or termination pay, the employee must be notified before the start of the pay period in which the reduction is to take effect. However, these rates must always be at least the minimum required by the legislated standards.
What deductions can be made from employee earnings?
The Employment Standards Code allows certain deductions to be made from employee earnings. These include legal deductions for Income Tax, Canada Pension Plan, and Employment Insurance as well as deductions resulting from a judgment or order of a court. Other deductions require the employee’s written authorization first, while there are some deductions that cannot be made even with the employee’s written consent.
For more information, see the Deduction from Earnings Fact Sheet.
What daily and weekly rest periods are employees entitled to under the Code?
Employees are entitled to at least a half hour break during a shift in excess of five consecutive hours, except where it is unreasonable or impossible. The break can be paid or unpaid at the employer's discretion. Likewise, an employer must give employees:
- one day of rest each week,
- two consecutive days of rest in each period of two consecutive weeks,
- three consecutive days of rest in each period of three consecutive weeks, or
- four consecutive days of rest in each period of four consecutive weeks.
After 24 consecutive days of work, employees must be provided with at least four consecutive days of rest.
For more information, see the Hours of Work, Rest Periods and Days of Rest Fact Sheet.
Do I qualify for maternity and/or parental leave?
Eligible employees are entitled to unpaid job-protected maternity and parental leave, or time off from work, before and after the birth of a child or the adoption of a child.
To qualify for maternity and parental leave under the Employment Standards Code, you must have worked for the employer for at least 52 consecutive weeks. However, many employers, by policy or through collective agreements, provide maternity leave to employees who have worked less than 52 weeks. Check with your employer to find out what you are entitled to.
For more information, see the Maternity and Parental Leave Fact Sheet.
Are part-time employees eligible for general holiday pay?
Yes. Provided part-time employees have worked for the same employer for 30 work days or more in the 12 months preceding the general holiday. However, there are circumstances mentioned in the Code which may result in an employee being ineligible from receiving general holiday pay. See section 26(2) of the Code.
If an employee is not entitled to general holiday pay, but is required to work on the general holiday, what pay is the employee entitled to?
The day is treated like any other normal working day. The employee is paid his or her normal wages and, if applicable, overtime.
Do part-time employees qualify for vacation and vacation pay?
Yes, all employees including part-time employees qualify for vacation time and vacation pay.
Can vacation with pay be given prior to completing 12 full months of employment?
Yes, if the employer agrees.
What happens when a general holiday falls within an employee’s annual vacation?
If they qualify for general holiday pay, an employee is entitled to take time off on the first scheduled working day after their vacation. Or, if the employer agrees, the employee may take time off before their next annual vacation on a day that would normally be a work day for the employee.
Are employees paid by the month entitled to vacation time and pay?
Yes. All employees are entitled to vacations and vacation pay. Vacation pay for employees paid by the month is calculated by dividing their monthly wage by 4 1/3.
What is overtime and how is it paid?
Unless an employee is exempted from the basic overtime hours, overtime is all hours worked in excess of eight hours a day or 44 hours a week, whichever is greater. Overtime must be paid at the rate of at least 1.5 times the employee’s regular wage rate. The sole exception applies where the overtime is accumulated under an overtime agreement.
Can employees request their employer to pay out banked overtime pay?
Yes. An employer has the discretion to pay out banked overtime but it must be at the rate of at least 1.5 times the wage rate for the overtime hours worked.
For more information, see the Overtime Hours and Overtime Pay Fact Sheet.
When an employee is being terminated, what notice or pay is an employer required to give?
The employer must give written termination notice of at least one to eight weeks depending on the employee’s length of employment.
For more information, see the Termination of Employment and Temporary Layoff Fact Sheet.
How old must a person be to work?
Employees aged 15, 16 and 17 are allowed to work in any jobs. These workers are called “young persons” in the legislation.
Employees aged 12, 13 and 14 are allowed to work in approved jobs. These workers are called “adolescents” in the legislation.
For more information, see the Adolescents and Young Persons Fact Sheet.
Are reservists entitled to unpaid job-protected leave while they are away serving their country?
Yes, qualified reservists are entitled to a period of leave without pay. At the end of this leave, they must be reinstated in their previous position or an equivalent job.
For more information, see the Reservists Leave Fact Sheet.