Alberta expected to introduce legislation on new workplace rules next week

The Alberta Legislature on Feb. 26, 2016. Wes Rosa, Global News

The Alberta government says legislation to overhaul workplace rules could come as early as next week.

Government House Leader Brian Mason says it’s “pretty likely” a bill will be tabled then.

“It’s generally well known that there is some legislation to improve the rights of workers in Alberta that is coming to make sure that we have fair workplaces and that we have up-to-date legislation,” Mason told reporters Tuesday.

Labour Minister Christina Gray has been leading reviews of Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code.

She says Alberta has not updated its rules in almost three decades and the province has fallen behind the rest of the country in many areas.

READ MORE: Alberta clarifies rules on investigations into workplace injuries and deaths

For example, workers in Alberta can still be legally fired for taking a sick day.

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The overhaul follows more than a month of public and online consultations focusing on maternity, parental and compassionate-care leaves.

It is also looking at introducing leave for the care of critically ill children.

READ MORE: Would you donate your days off to a co-worker with a sick child?

Andy Sims, the former chair of the Alberta Labour Relations Board, is looking at the Labour Relations Code.

Opposition leaders and some business groups say the government is moving too quickly on the legislation given the far-reaching implications for business.

The Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties also worry the labour code review will bring in union-friendly changes.

They say Premier Rachel Notley’s team plans to do away with secret ballots for union drives, replacing it with a card check system that would boost union membership.

“The idea of some of the changes that have been floated are very concerning,” said Wildrose Leader Brian Jean.

“We’ve had years and years of labour security and people have been very pleased with our labour situation (with) very few strikes and very little unrest.

“I know it’s been some time since the legislation was updated, but if it’s taken this long and we’re doing so well, why rush it through?”

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