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New legislation addresses human rights concerns for farm workers

The challenges faced by businesses and their employees often vary depending on industry and location. In Alberta, human rights concerns about farm labour have led to recent changes to employment standards legislation. This means that farm owners will have more employment laws to consider when managing waged, non-family employees.

The legislation designed to address these human rights concerns was enacted on Jan. 1, 2018. It is called the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act, and entitles all Alberta farm employees to general holiday pay and vacation pay. Employees who work their scheduled shifts before and after the general holiday or who work on the holiday itself if required are eligible for this pay.

Another change from the new legislation is that probationary periods are now 90 days instead of three months. This means that workers can take unpaid leave with their jobs protected as of day 91. Farms still do not have to pay overtime or limit hours of work, though four days of rest must be given every 28-day period. These days are at the employer's discretion.

Those who hire farm workers will need to take certain steps to ensure these new regulations are followed and that their business can manage the changes. For example, changes to payroll may be needed for holiday and vacation pay. Other changes that may be beneficial are policy manuals, enhanced contracts and refined recruitment processes. An Alberta lawyer can help guide farm workers who have human rights concerns at work who could benefit from legal advice on possible recourse.

Source: dawsoncreekmirror.ca, "Pay attention to new farm labour laws", April 2, 2018

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