The Provincial Government is making changes to the Employment Standards with their Bill 17. Changes come into effect January 1, 2018, with the exception of the Youth Employment Standards which come into effect on May 1, 2018. Changes include the following:


The new changes now include eleven types of unpaid, job protected leaves. Employees are eligible for each of these leaves after 90 days of employment (up from one year).


These include:

  • Maternity Leave – benefit leave has increased from 15 weeks to 16 weeks.
  • Parental Leave – benefit leave has increased from 37 weeks to 62 weeks.
  • Compassionate Care – benefit leave has increased from 8 to 27 weeks.
  • Critical Illness Leave of an Adult Family Member – a new leave that provides up to 16 weeks for employees to take care of an ill or injured adult family member.
  • Critical Illness of a Child – a new leave that provides up to 36 weeks for parents of critically ill or injured children.
  • Long-term Illness and Injury Leave – a new leave that provides up to 16 weeks per year for long-term sickness or injury.
  • Personal and Family Responsibility Leave – a leave that provides up to 5 days per year for personal sickness or short-term care of an immediate family member. This includes attending to personal emergencies and caregiving responsibilities related to education of a child.
  • Bereavement Leave – a new leave that will provide up to 3 days per year for bereavement of an immediate family member.
  • Domestic Violence Leave – a new leave that will provide up to 10 days per year for employees addressing domestic violence situations.
  • Death or Disappearance of a Child – a new leave that will provide up to 52 weeks for employees whose child disappeared as a result of crime, or up to 104 weeks if a child died as a result of a crime.
  • Citizenship Ceremony Leave – a new leave that will provide up to a half-day for employees attending a citizenship ceremony.

Rest Periods

Employees will be entitled to a minimum 30-minute break (paid or unpaid) within every five hours of consecutive work. These can be taken in two, 15 minute intervals. In the old Employment Standards, a break was needed in excess of five hours worked (paid or unpaid).

Farm and ranch employees have no limits on work hours or daily breaks. However, these employees are required 4 days off every 28 days.

Compressed Work Weeks

This has been renamed to “Averaging Agreements.” All these agreements need support of majority of employees or a union collective agreement. Under the new requirements, an agreement will be allowed for average work hours over a period of 1 to 12 weeks to determine overtime eligibility. If a longer cycle than 12 weeks is required, an employer may apply for a permit.


There is clarification in the code about which deductions are allowed and which are not.

Allowable deductions include:

  • Required by law – federal and provincial tax, CPP, EI and garnishee of courts.
  • Authorized by a collective agreement (union).
  • Authorized in writing by the employee including company pension plans, dental plans, social funds, RRSP’s, and meals and lodging (within the required limit).

Non-Allowable deductions include:

  • Faulty work including accidental damage to an employer’s vehicle or equipment and mistakes in production.
  • Cash shortages or loss of property if others have access to this as well. This also includes dine and dash, gas and dash or breakage.

Minimum Wage

Employers will no longer be allowed to pay employees with disabilities less than minimum wage. The minimum wage on October 1, 2017, is $13.60/hr and will be increased to $15/hr on October 1, 2018.


Overtime is all hours worked over 8 hours a day or 44 hours a week, whichever is greater.

Overtime agreement will allow time to be banked for six months instead of three. Overtime banking will be calculated at 1.5 times for all overtime hours worked. This affects both paid out and time off. Under the old Employment Standards, it was hour for hour for time off.

Farm and ranch employers have no requirement to pay overtime.

General Holiday and General Holiday Pay

Employees are entitled to holiday pay the day they start. Under the old Employment Standards, an employee was entitled after 30 days of work.

General holiday pay will be calculated as 5% of wages, general holiday pay and vacation pay earned in the four weeks immediately preceding the holiday. (Overtime pay is not included in this calculation)

Farms and ranch employees have their general holiday pay calculated at 4.2% of wages instead of the 5% if they are not working. If working the general holiday, another day off is to be provided.

Vacation and Vacation Pay

The standard is the same. An employee is entitled to 4% (2 weeks) under 5 years of employment and 6% (3 weeks) for 5 and more years of employment. There has been clarification in the code that employees must take vacation time and employers must give vacation time. When employees have already been paid out vacation pay, their time off will be without additional pay.

Termination and Temporary Layoffs

Employers will be prohibited from forcing employees to use vacation or banked overtime during the termination notice period, unless agreed upon by both parties.

The possibility of indefinite temporary layoffs will be eliminated. Layoffs will be limited to 60 days within a 120-day period. A termination notice must be given in writing.

Termination pay will be calculated based on the previous 13 weeks of employment when the employee actually worked (not the calendar weeks preceding the termination).

When proper notice is given, the employee’s earning must be paid within three days after their last day of employment.

Youth Employment

Youth under age 13 will not be allowed to work as employees unless it is for an artistic endeavor.

Youth aged 13-15 will only be allowed to work in jobs on the ‘light work’ list and are prohibited from working jobs deemed as hazardous work. Youth aged 16 and 17 will be allowed to do hazardous work only with a permit and proper training and supervision.

Youth aged 15 years and under are not allowed to work from 12:01 am to 6 am.


Prosecution will be increased from one year to two years if found in breach of the code. Permits are being replaced with regulations.

Farms and Ranches

Family members will be exempt from the Employment Standards Code. Family members consist of individuals related by blood, marriage or adoption of a child, parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, first cousin and any other person prescribed by the regulations to be a family member. Only farms and ranches with paid employees who are not related to the owner will be affected by the new Employment Standards Code.

Greenhouses, nurseries, mushroom and sod farms are not considered farms under the Employment Standards Code.

Should you have any questions regarding the above changes to Employment Standards, please do not hesitate to contact our office.