Southern Alberta Floods 2013 – Employment Standards Q&As
Is my employer required to pay me when I have not been able to work because of business closure due to the flood?
This type of benefit may be found in an employment contract or collective agreement, or an employer may choose to provide this type of benefit during this time. If you are covered under a collective agreement, contact your union representative for assistance. If you are not part of a union, check your employment contract.
The Employment Standards Code does not require an employer to continue to pay an employee during a business closure due to flooding or other natural disaster.
Can my employer require me to go to a different location for work due to flood damage at my normal workplace?
There is nothing in the Employment Standards Code which requires an employer to maintain the same workplace at all times. If there is flood damage to your normal workplace, it may be unsafe for you to continue working there. An employer can require you to work in a different location, including your home, if the workplace is inaccessible or unsafe to work in.
Your usual entitlements such as your rate of pay, hours of work, vacation pay, and other entitlements must remain the same.
Does my employer have to give me time off from work if my house has been damaged or if I have been evacuated?
The Employment Standards Code does not require an employer to give an employee time off in these circumstances. However, your collective agreement or employment contract may allow for time off in this situation. If you have vacation leave or personal leave available, you may be able to arrange with your employer for the use of these benefits during this time.
If my workplace is destroyed or damaged by a natural disaster, can my employer lay me off/terminate me?
Yes. An employer may choose to lay-off its employees if the employer’s business or workplace has been destroyed by a natural disaster, such as flooding. The Employment Standards Code allows an employer to lay-off an employee for a period up to 59 days. If the employee is not recalled by the 60th day of the lay-off, the employment is deemed to have terminated, and the employer must provide termination pay to the employee.
Termination of employment
Yes. An employer does not need to provide termination notice to an employee if the employment has become impossible to perform due to unforeseeable or unpreventable causes beyond the employer’s control. Employment Standards consider natural disasters, such as flooding, as an example of unforeseeable or unpreventable cause. In this situation, an employer may terminate an employee’s employment without the need to provide termination notice or pay in lieu of notice.
What Supports are available if I am laid off or terminated?
If you are an employee who has been temporarily laid off from your employment, you may be eligible for Employment Insurance Benefits provided by the Federal Government. To find out if you are eligible for these benefits, contact Service Canada at 1‑800‑206‑7218 (toll-free) or visit them online at: http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/home.shtml.
If you feel you need more assistance, you can contact Alberta Supports which provides social-based assistance services, including in the areas of employment and training. You can contact them online at: www.AlbertaSupports.ca or toll-free at 1‑877‑644‑9992. If you are a temporary foreign worker, please contact the Temporary Foreign Worker Advisory Office at 1‑877‑944‑9955 or online at: http://work.alberta.ca/Immigration/temporary-foreign-workers.html.
Does a State of Emergency mean that Employment Standards do not apply?
The declaration of a State of Emergency by a local municipality does not mean that the Employment Standards Code and Regulation no longer apply. There is some consideration in the legislation with respect to special circumstances such as those that occur during an emergency or natural disaster, including extending hours of work particularly in a situation where unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances occur (such as in an emergency or disaster), which means an employer could extend an employee’s hours of work beyond 12 hours in a day. An employee would still be entitled to overtime and rest periods and subject to any Occupational Health and Safety considerations as well. An employer may also be permitted to temporarily lay off or terminate employees as well if their operations have ceased. Employees should refer to their collective agreement (if unionized) or employment contracts which may identify expectations during an emergency.
Can an employer make me cancel my planned vacation due to an emergency impacting the workplace?
A collective agreement or employment contract may specify how an employer may handle approved vacation requests during an emergency situation. Employees are encouraged to talk to their employers to determine what, if any, impacts an emergency may have on their vacation plans. When an employer and employee are unable to agree on a mutually satisfactory date for annual vacation, the employer does have the ability to determine when an employee will take vacation and must inform the employee with at least two weeks’ written notice of when they must start his or her annual vacation. The Government of Alberta encourages cooperation between employers and employees during an emergency or natural disaster.
Can an employer extend my working hours because of the flood?
Yes, your employer can require you to work more than 12 hours a day only so far as to avoid serious interference with the ordinary working of their business. When you are asked to work extended hours, the normal overtime requirements and rest periods under the Employment Standards Code continue to apply. You should also note that both you and your employer have an obligation to ensure that workplace health and safety is appropriately managed. If you feel unsafe working extended hours due to fatigue or other causes, you are encouraged to discuss the issue with your employer or seek more information by contacting the Occupational Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1‑866‑415‑8690 (toll-free in Alberta).
Can my employer make me participate in workplace clean up?
The Employment Standards Code does not regulate what type of work an employer can ask an employee to do. However, if you are participating in workplace clean-up, you are providing a service and you should be paid for that service as well as receiving the usual entitlements such as overtime pay and vacation pay. You may also have health and safety concerns with regards to the activities you are asked to do as a part of the clean-up. An employer has an obligation to ensure the health and safety of the employer’s workers. If you have questions about the safety of the work you are participating in, you can contact the Occupational Health and Safety Contact Centre (toll-free) at 1‑866‑415‑8690.
I am a member of the Canadian Forces Reserve Force. My unit has been called up to go help out with the emergency situation. Am I eligible for reservist leave?
You may be eligible for unpaid job protected reservist leave if you have been employed by your employer for at least 26 consecutive weeks and have been asked to deploy to provide assistance in dealing with an emergency or its aftermath. There is a requirement to provide written notice to your employer as soon as is reasonable in the circumstances (the standard requirement is to provide your employer with 4 weeks’ notice prior to the date the leave is to start, however in an emergency where this is not possible, this notice can be provided as soon as is reasonable. For more information please see the fact sheet on reservist leave.
I am a Temporary Foreign Worker. Where can I get information about help available for me?
You can contact the Temporary Foreign Worker Advisory Office (TFWAO) in Edmonton at 780‑644‑2584, in Calgary at 403‑476‑4540 or the Temporary Foreign Worker Contact Line toll free at 1‑877‑944‑9955.
Am I entitled to be paid for working Canada Day if my employer is closed until June 30, 2013?
If you would have been otherwise eligible for general holiday pay, you may still be entitled, even if the office was closed the day before.
To still be eligible you must:
- Be absent with the employer’s consent. If your employer has closed the business and advised employees not to attend work that would be considered an absence with employer’s consent. However, if you were absent from work without consent of the employer on your last regular working day prior to or first regular working day after the general holiday, you would not be entitled to general holiday pay; and
- Have worked your last regular working day prior to or first regular working day after the general holiday. Note that the “regular working day” does not have to be the day immediately prior to the general holiday if that is not a usual working day for the employee.