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No Alberta labour code changes without construction consultation

Russell Hixson
No Alberta labour code changes without construction consultation

The Government of Alberta has responded to industry concerns over new labour and employment standards legislation, explaining that no changes will be made to current construction industry provisions.

According to the Alberta Construction Association (ACA), because of concerns raised by members over employment standards legislation in May, the labour deputy minister sat down with ACA leadership this month to explain what the changes would mean to the industry.

The government responded to ACA concerns and indicated that no changes will be made to construction industry provisions in the regulations that currently exist, including rules for calculating banking of overtime (OT) hours, termination pay, vacation pay and calculating general holiday pay.

"The ACA’s concerns about banking OT have been addressed," said Ken Gibson, ACA executive director. "Current regulations allow the construction industry banking one hour to one hour. Bill C17 changes that to 1.5 hours for every hour worked, but construction is exempt from this provision of C17 because the current regulation remains in force."

Any changes to existing regulations will only be made after consulting with affected industries.

The ACA explained there is a plan to review any longstanding permits issued to industries (including any issued to the construction industry) to see if those details should be incorporated into an industry-specific regulation.

The intent would be to ensure that any special rules that are needed for industries are in the regulations so that employers would not need to apply for a permit. If any such permits exist, affected stakeholders would be engaged in those conversations.

Back in May, the association expressed concern over the legislation.

ACA chair Paul Heyens said at the time, "Construction projects must be completed within strict schedules, working around unfavourable weather, and often at remote locations.

"ACA is concerned that construction specific regulations that have been in place have been altered by the new legislation, particularly in relation to banking of overtime. This will ultimately increase the cost of construction."

In addition to extending maternity benefits and guaranteeing job protection for new unpaid leaves, the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act would raise the minimum working age to 13 and introduce stronger enforcement, including administrative penalties when warranted for contraventions to the Employment Standards Code.

The bill would introduce access to first contract arbitration to assist parties in successful bargaining and improved dispute resolution methods under the Labour Relations Code. It would also simplify union certification and decertification processes, which has received mixed reviews from several construction and labour stakeholders.

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