Friday 15 December 2017

Another NDP blow to small business in Alberta

Earlier this week I posted on Facebook page about upcoming changes to Alberta Employment Standards, in particular the changes to General Holidays and the pay associated with them.

In my interpretation it sounded drastic and I openly admitted that I hoped I was wrong.

I had emailed Employment Standards and as of today I had not received a reply, thus I called them.

I spoke with Carol, she was very helpful and addressed all of my questions.

Here are the key points of change:

1) the eligibility requirement of having worked 30 days/shifts prior to the General Holiday  has been removed.

2) for part-time individuals or those with irregular schedules, the requirement to work 5 or the last 9 same day of week of the General Holiday has been removed.

The result of these two points is everyone is eligible right away.

Eligibility goes on to say they must work their scheduled day before and after the holiday. Some have taken this to mean the "immediate" day before and after the holiday - this is not the case. It's any day before or after that they are scheduled.

There is no longer a definition of a "regular" or "non-regular" workday for employees.

I gave Carol the example of us having one employee in particular who only works Wednesday's. She confirmed under new rules he will now be eligible. Even though he never works a Monday or Friday (when the General Holidays usually land). Because he has worked he regular scheduled day before and after he is eligible.

We then went onto to discuss how the pay is calculated.

1) for those who work the holiday, they will be paid at a rate of 1.5 times their wage for the hours work, on top of their regular wage for those same hours.

This is the same as it is now.

2) for those who don't work the holiday, their pay will be calculated as 5% of their wages, general holiday pay and vacation pay earned in the four weeks immediately preceding the general holiday.

This point is a huge departure from the current structure, since everyone now is eligible all staff with be paid this when they don't work the holiday.  Or if your business is closed for the holiday, this will also apply to all staff.

There are nine mandated General Holidays, plus businesses must choose one more, bringing the total to ten per year.  They are relatively spread out over the year and each time (roughly monthly) employers will be paying out 5% out on all the wages paid.

Add to this the burden of making these calculations for every employee. To the best of my knowledge no accounting program will have this calculation built in.

Businesses that have mostly full-time staff they won't see much difference. Ones though who predominantly employee part-time staff - this is very significant.

Using our business as an example:

We have 15 staff, nearly all are part-time.  On General Holidays we typically have 3, sometimes 4 staff in.  Under prior rules the staff who didn't work it would only be eligible if it was a "regular" work day for them or if they had worked 5 of the last nine.

Under the new rules we will be paying all staff for every General Holiday. This is pretty much equivalent to increasing our wages cost by 5% - nevermind the additional employer portion of CPP and EI.

In closing here is a link to the Government site where you can read it for yourself.

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