After much public debate, the Alberta NDP government tabled Bill 17: The Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act. This marks the first amendments to Alberta’s labour laws in nearly 30 years.

In early March the NDP started to consult the public about what changes should be made, and these new laws have taken 10 weeks to put together.

Labour leaders around the province have applauded many of the changes included in the bill, pointing out we have been out of step with the rest of Canada for too long.

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But of course there was opposition.

The Wildrose and Progressive Conservatives have stated that they believe the changes should be split into two bills to allow for more consultation.

Wildrose leader Brian Jean said the NDP is trying to pressure opposition parties to vote for all of the changes in the bill by including them with ‘compassionate leave for workers.’ He also added he thinks secret ballot voting for unionization should still be used every time.

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Some of the highlights from the bill include:

·      The minimum work age will be raised to 13 from 12 years old.

·      Employers will be prevented from docking employee pay if a customer leaves without paying

·      Job protection for unpaid leave for personal reasons such as illness, injury, domestic violence, family responsibility or disappearance of a child.

·      Unions could be certified without a secret ballot if more than 65 per cent of employees had verified membership cards, but less than 60.

·      Family members who are employed on a family farm would be exempt from employment standards.

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