EDMONTON - The Alberta Federation of Labour submitted its recommendations yesterday to the Alberta government review of the Employment Standards Code. September 29th was the deadline for public input into the rules. The AFL also released new calculations that show that funding for employment standards enforcement is now less than half of the funding in 1992.
"This review of employment standards is long overdue," says AFL President Gil McGowan. "Our submission aims to modernize the Employment Standards Code while continuing to protect workers in this province."
Highlights of the AFL submission include:
- A ban on hiring children under the age of 15
- Increase maximum penalties to $1 million, and issue tickets for lesser infractions
- Provide workers the right to refuse overtime
- Prohibition of gender-based wage discrimination (equal pay for equal work)
- Removal of exemptions for farm and domestic workers
- Creation of a Minimum Wage Board to adjust rate annually
Other items include new sections regulating temporary employment agencies, guaranteeing 5 days off per year for attending to family responsibilities and requiring employers to provide uniforms free of charge. The complete submission is available on the AFL website at www.afl.org.
The AFL submission also focused on revamping the enforcement regime, and increasing the budget for Employment Standards by 32% immediately, and annual increases of 5% to 10% for the next five years.
"We are calling for dramatic increases in funding for employment standards enforcement. Rules on paper are useless if the government has no way to enforce them. We need inspectors checking out employers and actively pursuing contraventions of the Code," says McGowan. "And the only way to do that is to increase funding in a big way."
"Right now, enforcement is non-existent. That needs to change."
McGowan released calculations that show that funding for employment standards has reduced by 55% since 1992. In 1992, the government provided $6.16 per worker for enforcement. Today, that number is down to $2.81 (in 1992 dollars). "The Conservatives have gutted enforcement standards. It is an intentional political attack designed to give employers a free ride in the workplace."
"For most workers, an employment standards regime that actually works would be a better gift than a one-time cheque from the government." McGowan concludes.
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For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President at 780.915-4599 (cell) or 780.483-3021