The devastating wildfires in Fort McMurray have resulted in unimaginable loss for residents and organizations that live and operate within and around the city. While the tragedy has affected many Albertans, the outpour of support and compassion from organizations, neighbors and strangers alike has been incredible. As efforts ramp up to clean up and rebuild Fort McMurray, many organizations, including clients of Salopek & Associates, are asking “How can we help?” and in developing their work plans are realizing the incredible effort it will take from their teams. Of course, we all want to clean up and rebuild as quickly as possible, but as companies prepare their work plans and teams to support, there are a few things that are important to think about to ensure, as an employer, you are remaining in compliance with regulations:
Employment Standards Still Apply
From an Employment Standards perspective, while the tragic loss experienced in Fort Mac has many people willing to do what ever it takes and work day-in / day-out to rebuild, the maximum daily Hours of Work and the maximum number of consecutive Days of Work for employees may still apply to your organization and team. If your work plan requires employees to work more hours in a day or more consecutive days than is permitted by employment standards, you must request a permit that indicates your work is in response to an emergency or accident. Here is the recommended process for requesting the permit that will enable your organization to work outside of the Employment Standards Act:
- You must submit a permit application to request an extension to Hours of Work or Days of Work.
- You will need to submit separate requests for hours and days and detail your specific request for hours to be worked in a day and days of rest to be taken by employees, if they will exceed the Employment Standards maximums.
- Typically, it takes 4 weeks to receive a permit, so it is advised that you should email the permit request to them and ask these questions in your email:
- Do we need a permit to extend daily hours of work or days of rest in this situation?
- How long will it take to obtain the permit?
Hours of Work
Without a permit, you are limited to the 12 hour daily maximum as per Employment Standards. If your organization is transporting employees from a camp or other location outside Fort Mac, the day would start when they get on the bus (or other mode of transportation), so be sure to include travel time in the 12 hour maximum.
Employees are entitled to a 30 minute rest period (paid or unpaid) after every 5 hours of work. However, where it is impractical or unsafe to do so, or there is no one to relieve the employee, this requirement is waived. If employees are given breaks, but are not allowed to leave their work site, the breaks must be paid.
Days of Rest
Here are the rules around days off:
- one day of rest for each week of work,
- two consecutive days of rest in each period of 2 consecutive weeks
- three consecutive days of rest in each period of 3 consecutive weeks
- four consecutive days of rest in each period of 4 consecutive weeks
- after 24 consecutive days of work, employees must be provided with at least 4 consecutive days of rest.
As per Employment Standards, Overtime must be paid for any hours greater than 8/day or 44/week.
As always, Managers and Supervisors are exempt from the above Employment Standards legislation, but they must truly hold managerial or supervisory functions, over and above any work they might do that is similar to the staff that they supervise (i.e., they must have the ability to hire, fire and evaluate employee performance).
General (Statutory) Holidays
Normal rules about payment for General Holidays that fall during an employee’s work term apply as per this Employment Standards Act Fact Sheet. However, if employees are hired specifically for a project they may be new temporary employees. Keep in mind that organizations are not required to pay General Holiday pay for employees who have worked less than 30 days with a company in the past 12 months. Once the employee has been employed for at least 30 work days, you will need to treat them like anyone else who is eligible for General Holidays.
As organizations rally their teams and resources to support with Fort McMurray clean up and rebuild efforts we hope you will keep Salopek & Associates in mind and contact us if you have questions regarding employment standards and the obligations you have as you extend your teams and support to Fort McMurray.
For any organizations that have been affected by the fires, Salopek & Associates is offering our HR support free of charge to help you effectively manage displaced employees. Please contact us anytime with questions – it would be our pleasure to support you and your team during this challenging time.