Labour re­forms bring wel­come re­lief to Al­berta’s strug­gling food­ser­vice sec­tor

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - OPINION - Globe Newswire

Restau­rants Canada ap­plauds Al­berta’s new UCP-led gov­ern­ment for wast­ing no time ush­er­ing in crit­i­cally needed labour re­forms, which will pro­vide wel­come re­lief for the prov­ince’s strug­gling food­ser­vice sec­tor.

Bill 2: An Act to Make Al­berta Open for Busi­ness, which passed third reading in Al­berta’s leg­is­la­ture, acts on many of the rec­om­men­da­tions that Restau­rants Canada made dur­ing the pro­vin­cial elec­tion. This leg­is­la­tion, com­bined with the new Job Cre­ation Stu­dent Wage that came into ef­fect on June 26, will go a long way to help food­ser­vice busi­nesses re­gain solid foot­ing fol­low­ing re­cent set­backs.

“Over the past few years, a lot of smart, re­spon­si­ble restau­rant op­er­a­tors have been find­ing it incredibly hard to jus­tify ex­pan­sion plans or even keep their doors open at all in this prov­ince,” said Mark von Schell­witz, Restau­rants Canada vice pres­i­dent, western Canada. “Our in­dus­try’s call for ac­tion was heard loud and clear. Al­berta’s new gov­ern­ment has taken swift and de­ci­sive steps to help em­ploy­ers con­tinue con­tribut­ing to vi­brant com­mu­ni­ties and create more jobs, es­pe­cially for youth.”

Thanks to Al­berta’s new labour re­forms:

• Restau­rants now have the flex­i­bil­ity they need to pro­vide more youth with crit­i­cal first-time job ex­pe­ri­ence. Unem­ploy­ment for Al­ber­tans aged 15-17 years old in Q1 of 2019 was 21.5 per cent — al­most triple the gen­eral rate. Thanks to the new Job Cre­ation Stu­dent Wage that came into ef­fect on June 26, Al­berta’s em­ploy­ers are now per­mit­ted to pay a wage of $13 per hour for the first 28 hours worked by a stu­dent be­tween 13 and 17 years of age while school is in ses­sion. For ev­ery hour over that, stu­dents must be paid the full $15 min­i­mum hourly wage. Dur­ing school breaks and sum­mer hol­i­days, the youth rate ap­plies to all hours worked.

• Only em­ploy­ees who reg­u­larly work on a gen­eral hol­i­day will be en­ti­tled to re­ceive hol­i­day pay, and they must work 30 days in the last 12 months to qual­ify for it. This change, which comes into ef­fect on Sept. 1, bet­ter re­flects the re­al­i­ties of restau­rants, which typ­i­cally op­er­ate out­side the realm of the reg­u­lar 9-5 work week and have had a hard time pay­ing work­ers for a day when they wouldn’t reg­u­larly be work­ing.

• Work­ers will have the op­tion to de­velop straight­time banked over­time hour ar­range­ments with their em­ployer. Cur­rently, em­ploy­ees can choose to be paid for over­time at time-and-a-half, or re­ceive 1.5 banked time off. In­stead, Bill 2 will al­low em­ploy­ers and work­ers to make straight-time banked hour ar­range­ments, where em­ploy­ees can still choose to bank over­time hours, but at a 1:1 ra­tio. . These changes will come into ef­fect on Sept. 1.

• A manda­tory se­cret bal­lot will be re­stored for all union cer­ti­fi­ca­tion votes, as well as a 90-day pe­riod for unions to pro­vide ev­i­dence of employee sup­port for cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. These changes will im­prove bal­ance and en­hance free­doms for work­ers.

Restau­rants Canada looks for­ward to work­ing with Al­berta’s new gov­ern­ment to­ward ful­fill­ing even more com­mit­ments made dur­ing the pro­vin­cial elec­tion that will con­tinue to im­prove re­al­i­ties for restau­rants.

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