This year the NDP government implemented changes to the employment standards code.
It marked the first time in three decades that changes had been made. They were very long overdue, to say the least.
These changes finally defended workers’ rights – especially those who are in precarious or part time work, shift work or non-unionized workers. These are workers who are often taken advantage of and are too afraid to speak up.
While some employers have been okay with implementing the changes and publicly have shown their support for workers’ rights – other have not felt the same way.
The first major issue was the raise in minimum wage, and now the latest showdown is over statutory holiday pay.
Marty Giles, the owner of vehicle dealerships in Fort McMurray, Calgary, Cochrane and Fort McKay recently recorded a video rant and posted it on social media. He stated that the new general holiday pay was going to hurt his businesses.
Giles said that these rules are going to cost his business $103 an hour on stat holidays because of the new changes and that he is basically paying his employees to ‘sit on the couch.’
Describing them as just ‘sitting on the couch’ is insulting to his employees. If you value your workers, you should make sure they have much needed time off.
Business owners, especially ones who have been as successful as Giles, need to realize that these costs come with running a business. If you can’t afford to have your employees make a decent wage or pay for statutory holidays, then maybe your business model doesn’t work. It’s time to rethink it.
The code now states that ‘all eligible employees are entitled to holiday pay, where they are paid the equivalent of a day’s pay whether they work or not.’
Previously, the employer would pay the stat pay the employee had worked five of the past nine days that the stat holiday fell on. This has been practiced in Saskatchewan and is included in their labour code.
Employees and employers alike would often be confused about how to interpret a ‘work day’ or the eligibility of a worker.
Now all shift workers are protected on a statutory holiday, whether they are spending time with their family, running errands they wouldn’t otherwise have time for or just ‘sitting on a couch.’
“We absolutely recognize that employers, and indeed all Albertans, are facing tough economic times. Through the feedback we received, we developed modern and fair rules for workplaces that balance the needs of both employers and employees,” said Christina Gray, Alberta Labour Minister, in an e-mail to the Globe and Mail.
The Employment Standards Code has remained the same for 30 years and required an update so that workers would be protected and have the same rights as workers do in several other provinces across Canada. Alberta has changed a lot in 30 years, so has the way business is done and our labour codes should reflect that.