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Tip Sheets

First Job or New Job? What You Need to Know About Employment Standards


Are you starting your first job, or a new job, in Alberta? You may wonder what conditions will be like where you’ll be working.

Alberta has rules about wages, hours of work and rest, overtime, vacation, general holidays (often referred to as statutory holidays or stats) and other working conditions. These rules are called "employment standards" and can be found in the Employment Standards Code and Employment Standards Regulation. They are the minimum work standards for employers and employees.

Here are some key questions you should ask your employer about the rules in your workplace. The answers will help you understand the minimum standards required by the Employment Standards Code.

Am I old enough to work for you?
If you’re 12, 13 or 14 years old, you can work in certain occupations, for example; as a retail clerk, a newspaper deliverer, or an office clerk or messenger. If you’re 15, 16 or 17 years old, there are also some restrictions about where and when you can work. Read more about age and employment in the Adolescents and Young Persons fact sheet.

How much and when will I be paid?
The minimum wage in Alberta is
  • $9.95 an hour for most employees
  • $9.05 an hour for employees serving liquor as part of their regular job
  • $389 a week for many salespersons, land agents and other specified professionals
  • $1,893 a month for domestic employees.
However, certain categories of employees are exempt from the minimum wage requirement. See the Minimum Wage Fact Sheet for further information or contact the Employment Standards Contact Centre (see Additional Information).

Many employers pay more than minimum wage. Your employer can pay you in cash, by cheque or by direct deposit (putting payment directly into your back account).

Your employer must establish a pay period to calculate your wages, overtime hours, vacation pay and other details. Typical pay periods are once a week, every two weeks or once a month. Your employer must pay you at least once a month and within 10 days of the end of each pay period. For more information, visit the Payment of Earnings section on the Alberta Employment and Immigration website.

What information will be on my pay stubs?
A pay stub (also called a pay slip or statement of earnings and deductions) is a record of what you have earned and what has been deducted from your earnings. An employer must give you a pay stub, regardless of whether you are paid by cash, cheque or direct deposit.
A pay stub must show:
   regular and overtime hours of work
   wage rate and overtime rate
   details of the earnings you've been paid; for example, vacation pay, holiday pay and overtime
   deductions from earnings and the reason for each deduction
   time off instead of overtime pay
   period of employment covered by the pay stub

Check your pay stub as soon as you get it to make sure it’s accurate. Keep your pay stubs. You may need them if there’s a dispute between you and your employer or your employer goes out of business and owes you money.

What will be deducted from my pay?
Employers are only allowed to make certain deductions from your pay. Some deductions are mandatory and some are optional. Mandatory deductions may include:
   federal and provincial income tax
   Employment Insurance premiums (EI)
   Canada Pension Plan contributions (CPP)
   money authorized by a collective agreement, such as union dues
   deductions resulting from a judgment or court order.

Other deductions, which you must approve in writing, may include:
   Medical and/or dental premiums
   Life insurance coverage
   Personal savings plans.

Employers may not deduct money for cash shortages or loss of property, unless you have sole access to the cash or property. Employers may deduct money for other purposes, such as uniforms, parking or a coffee fund, but only if you sign a form allowing them to do so.

Where and when is the shift schedule posted?
Signing in and out of your shifts helps both you and your employer keep track of your hours of work. If you’re not required to sign in and out, it’s still a good idea to keep your own written record of the hours you work.

Your employer must tell you when to start and finish your work by posting schedules where employees can see them or by any other reasonable method. Your employer must notify you at least 24 hours before a shift change. If there is a shift change, you must be allowed at least eight hours of rest between shifts.

What scheduled rest breaks and what days off will I have?
In each shift longer than five hours, you’re entitled to at least 30 minutes of rest. This rest period can be one 30-minute break, two 15-minute breaks or three 10-minute breaks. When you work a shift that is less than five hours, your employer does not have to provide a break.

Your employer must provide you with weekly rest days or days off. You must get one day of rest each week OR rest days as follows:

    Number of consecutive
    weeks worked

    Number of consecutive days of
    rest in the weeks worked

    2 2
    3 3
    4 4
After 24 consecutive days of work, you must get at least four consecutive days off.

What happens if I work overtime?
Your employer may ask you to work overtime.
If you’re 12, 13 or 14 years of age, you cannot work:
   after 9 p.m.
   more than eight hours on a non-school day
   more than two hours on a school day.

Overtime is the total number of hours you work beyond eight hours a day or beyond 44 hours a week—whichever adds up to the greater number of hours. There are some exceptions; for example, for domestic employees such as nannies.

Whether you are paid on an hourly, weekly or monthly basis or on an annual salary, you must be paid for overtime work. The rate of pay is at least 1.5 times your regular wage unless you are working under an overtime agreement.

An overtime agreement allows you to save up or bank overtime hours. Then you can take the time off with pay—you must be given at least one hour off for each hour of overtime work you have banked. You must take these days off within three months of the pay period in which you banked the hours. An overtime agreement, which is voluntary, must be in writing and signed by both you and your employer. Your employer must give you a copy of the agreement.

Is vacation pay included on every cheque?
For most employees, vacation pay is paid at a minimum rate of 4% of your regular wage.  After working one year for an employer, you are entitled to a minimum of two weeks of vacation. Both vacation pay and vacation time increase in the fifth year that you work with the same employer.

Many employers include vacation pay on every cheque; others pay at different times. All employers must pay vacation pay no later than the next payday after your vacation begins.

Will I work on general holidays?
Alberta recognizes the following nine general holidays:
   New Year’s Day
   Alberta Family Day
   Good Friday
   Victoria Day
   Canada Day
   Labour Day
   Thanksgiving Day
   Remembrance Day
   Christmas Day

If you’re entitled to general holiday pay and you work on that day, you will be paid your average daily wage plus time-and-a-half for every hour you work, or you may receive your regular wage for every hour you work plus a day off with pay. Ask your employer to find out if you’re entitled or visit the General Holidays and General Holiday Pay section on the Alberta Human Services website for more information.

If you are entitled to general holiday pay and do not work on the holiday, you will receive at least your average daily wage as general holiday pay.

Do you have any other rules I need to know about?
A good way to avoid problems at work, such as disciplinary action or losing your job, is to find out all you can about the conditions of employment. Your employer may have an employee handbook or policy manual that states the rules or guidelines for dress codes and appearance, being late for work, missing a shift and other workplace issues.

Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Employment Standards Regulation are the minimum requirements for nearly all employers and employees in the province. Many employers provide working conditions that offer more than these minimum standards.

Ask your employer about employment standards in your workplace. When you know what to expect—and what’s expected of you—you’ll feel more comfortable about your employer and the working environment.


A Question about Safety


Do you have a safety program to protect me?
Employers are required to eliminate or control hazards in the workplace under Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Code.
Your employer is responsible for the following:
   telling you about any workplace dangers
   setting and enforcing safe work practices
   making sure you have the proper skills and training to do your job safely.

You cannot be fired for refusing to work in unhealthy or unsafe conditions that violate the Occupational Health and Safety Code.

You are also responsible for your own workplace safety. Read the related tip sheets and booklets in the Other Relevant Tips and Additional Reading sections to find out more.

This article is intended as general information only and does not take the place of the Employment Standards Code. Consult the Employment Standards Code available on the Alberta Human Services website for detailed information.

Other Relevant Tips
Are You Safe at Your Job?
Getting and Keeping the Work You Want
New Job? Here's How to Make a Good First Impression
For more, visit the TIPS home page at alis.alberta.ca/tips

Additional Reading
Your Rights and Responsibilities at Work published by Alberta Employment and Immigration and Job Smart: Tips for Staying Employed and X-treme Safety: A Survival Guide for New and Young Workers published by Alberta Human Services. For copies of these publications:
download an online copy or order the publication from the ALIS website at alis.alberta.ca/publications
visit the Alberta Career Information Hotline website at alis.alberta.ca/hotline or call 1-800-661-3753 toll-free or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton
visit your local Alberta Works Centre. To find the centre nearest you, go to the Career Services Near You page on ALIS at alis.alberta.ca/awc or call the Alberta Career Information Hotline.

Additional Information
Visit the Employment Standards website at employment.alberta.ca/SFW/1224.html 

Call the Employment Standards Contact Centre

Alberta Toll-free Number: 1 (877) 427-3731
In Edmonton call: (780) 427-3731

Deaf or hard of hearing callers
with TDD/TDY units:

Dial 1 (800) 232-7215
In Edmonton call: (780) 427-9999

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