Alberta steps up employment standards enforcement

More officers to be hired, new tool kit helps employers
||Last Updated: 08/11/2011

Alberta is ramping up efforts to improve fairness in the workplace with a combination of better enforcement and education.

To respond to more complaints and expedite investigations, six new employment standards officers are being hired and the use of third-party auditors will increase, said the government. To ensure employers have better information about workplace rights and responsibilities, new training materials are being launched.

The actions are part of the Alberta’s efforts to improve compliance with employment standards. A new 24-7 online complaint system was introduced in December 2010 which has resulted in an increase in the number of complaints filed by workers against their employers, said the government.

“Fairness in the workplace is important to Albertans so, just as we did with occupational health and safety, we’re ramping up our enforcement of employment standards in Alberta and improving education at the same time,” said Thomas Lukaszuk, minister of employment and immigration.

About one-third of complaints are resolved through an early resolution process. More complex files require additional time for investigations and can extend into several months. The Alberta government recently introduced a more transparent complaint process and more stringent audit procedures for cases where employers are suspected of violating the Employment Standards Code or regulation.

When necessary, external auditors are brought in to review an employer’s records and employers must pay for the cost of these audits.

A new Employment Standards Tool Kit for Employers has also been created to improve awareness of standards and to give employers a clear picture of their rights and responsibilities.

“Most employers treat employees fairly but we still receive complaints about maternity leave, unpaid overtime or vacation pay, insufficient termination notice, improper jobs for young workers and other violations,” said Lukaszuk. “Our new tool kit focuses directly on these problem areas. We’re holding employers accountable and I’m putting them on notice — we’ll be doing more than ever before to ensure fairness in the workplace.”

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