10 Rights at Work You Probably Didn’t Know You Have in Alberta

10 Rights at Work You Probably Didn’t Know You Have in Alberta

We are lucky to have laws in Alberta that protect us at work. There are many different laws but the big ones are:

Unfortunately, many people don’t realize the protections they have under the law.  Here are some of the rights you might not have known that you have.

1. Your boss has to pay you for at least 3 hours of work – even if you were sent home early because there was not enough work to do.

Your employer must pay you minimum wage for at least 3 hours for every shift, no matter how many hours you actually work. So that means if you show up and work for an hour but get sent home because there wasn’t enough work, your boss still owes you $13.60 (as of October 1, 2017) x 3 hours = $40.80. Alberta Labour – Minimum Wage Fact Sheet. for more information on minimum wages in Alberta.
An exception to the rule is for workers between 12-14 years old working on a school night. They are only entitled to 2 hours. If they work on a non-school day though the 3-hour rule still counts.

Last updated: October 2107

2. You have the right (and should) refuse any work that is unsafe

Yep! It is your right to refuse work that is a threat to you or your co-workers’ safety and is beyond what is normal for your job. The Occupational Health and Safety Act protects you from getting in trouble from your boss if you refuse unsafe work.

Last updated: April 2015

3.Your boss can’t take money from your paycheque for broken items or shortages at the cash register

Your boss is never allowed to make deductions from your wages for broken items, faulty workmanship or shortages in the cash register if anyone else had access to it. But… these rules do not apply to your tips.

For example, if you dropped a glass at work your boss cannot take money from your wages to buy a new one. Your boss could, however, take money from your tips that evening to cover the cost of the glass.

Last updated: April 2015

4. If you have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months you must be given vacation time and pay even if you don’t work full time*

You start earning vacation pay as soon as you start working no matter how long you’ve been working.  You are entitled to vacation time after 12 months.

*Some types of jobs do not qualify. Read more about these jobs here

Last updated: April 2015

5. Your employer must make sure that you use appropriate safety equipment and that you know how to use it

Your employer must make sure that your work is a safe environment and you have the right safety equipment. Your employer also must make sure that you know how to do your job safely.

It’s okay for your boss to ask you to bring your own safety gear like steel-toe boots or hard hats. However, some types of safety equipment that protects against breathing hazards and noise levels exceeding legal limits must be given to you.

Last updated: April 2015

6. You have the right to be free from discrimination at work.

Discrimination occurs when you are treated unfairly or differently from your coworkers. The Alberta Human Rights Act is designed to protect individuals in Alberta from discrimination and harassment based on race, colour, gender (including pregnancy), gender identity, gender expression, religion, ancestry, where you were born, age (if you are over 18), physical disability, mental disability, family status, marital status, source of income, and sexual orientation.

If you think you are being harassed or discriminated against, you might be able to file a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission. We have an infographic with more information about filing a complaint here.

Last updated: January 2016

7. Employers have the duty to accommodate an employee’s needs to the point of undue hardship.

Employers must accommodate an employee’s needs to the point of undue hardship for the employer if the need is based on one of the protected grounds found in the Alberta Human Rights Act. Protected grounds include race, colour, gender (including pregnancy), religion, ancestry, where you were born, age (if you are over 18), physical disability, mental disability, family status, marital status, source of income, and sexual orientation.

Last updated: April 2015

8. It’s against the law to work for less than minimum wage even if you agree to it.

It is against the law for an employer to pay you less than minimum wage and it is against the law for you to work for less than minimum wage. You or your employer can be fined a substantial amount for breaking the law.

Last updated: April 2015

9. If you work more than 8 hours a day (or 44 hours per week) you are entitled to overtime pay.

Employees covered by the Employment Standards Code get overtime pay if they work more than 8 hours a day or 44 hours per week. Overtime pay is 1.5 times regular pay. For example, someone that makes $12 an hour would get paid $18 for each overtime hour.

Employees can also make an agreement with their employer to handle overtime differently. For example, instead of getting paid for overtime hours, an employee could take that time off. There are additional rules for this type of agreement here.

Some specific types of jobs are not entitled to overtime pay because these jobs do not have to follow the rules about hours of work, rest periods, and days of rest. Examples of these jobs include:

  • certain types of sales people;
  • farm or ranch workers;
  • managers and supervisors; and
  • instructors or counselors at non-profit education or recreational camps.

Last updated: April 2015

10. You cannot be fired for requesting something that you are entitled to or making a complaint under the Employment Standards Code, Occupational Health and Safety Act or Alberta Human Rights Act.

The law gives you rights and responsibilities. It is important that you report employers if they are violating your rights. If you report your employers for breaking one of the laws listed above you cannot be punished or fired by your boss.

If you are fired or punished for reporting, there are laws that set out procedures you can follow. Learn more about Alberta’s Employment Standards Code, Occupational Health and Safety Act, and Human Rights Act.

Last updated: April 2015

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All of the materials on this page were funded by the Alberta Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund (HREMF). This project was a result of a research project funded by HREMF. The research report is available here.

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