Employees are entitled to certain rights under Alberta law. It is important to know your rights to protect yourself and your co-workers. Here are five of them that you might not be aware of:

1. No earnings deductions for faulty work, cash shortages or loss of property.

Employers are not permitted to deduct an employee's wages for faulty work. Faulty work is an act or omission by an employee resulting in a loss to the employer. Examples include a bakery worker who accidentally puts far too much baking soda into an entire batch of muffins and they need to be thrown out, or an employee who gets into a collision in a work vehicle.

Similarly, an employer cannot deduct earnings for cash shortages or loss of property, provided that any other person (the employer, another employee or a customer) also has access to the cash or property. Situations such as dine-and-dash or gas-and-dash would fall into this category. An example of a loss of property which cannot be taken out of an employee's earnings would be a customer in a clothing shop ripping a garment or a restaurant customer breaking a plate.

2. Maximum deductions below minimum wage.

Provided that an employer has the written consent of the employee, an employee's wages can be deducted below minimum wage, up to a maximum of $4.41 per day that the employer provides the employee with lodging and $3.35 per meal consumed by the employee (deductions cannot be made for meals not consumed).

Other than these deductions, it is against the law for an employer to pay less than minimum wage.

3. Payment for meetings or training outside regular work hours.

If a mandatory meeting or training occurs on an employee’s scheduled day off, the employee must be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime if applicable. If the meeting or training is less than 3 hours in length, the employee must be paid for 3 hours of work (however certain types of employees have a 2-hour threshold).

If the meeting or training is not mandatory but is directly related to the employee’s work, and the employee attends, the employee must be paid the wages the employee and employer have agreed to (as well as any applicable overtime), which must be more than minimum wage. The above 3-hour rule is also applicable.

4. Employee's right to refuse unsafe work.

It is an employee's right to refuse work that is a threat to their safety or a co-worker's safety if it is beyond the normal scope of the employee's work.

5. No deductions for the provision of uniforms and certain safety equipment.

Employers cannot reduce wages to cover the cost of uniforms. No deductions are permitted for any costs associated with the purchase, use, rental or cleaning or repair of a uniform, or any other special article of apparel that an employee is required to wear during work.

An employer is entitled to ask an employee to bring certain personal protective equipment (PPE) such as steel toe boots and hard hats. Alternatively, if the employee agrees to it in writing, the employer can deduct earnings for the cost of PPE. However, respiratory protective equipment must be provided, and paid for, by the employer.

If you have questions about your employment situation, reach out to the experts at Getz, Collins & Associates at 403.934.2500 (Strathmore office), 587.391.5600 (Calgary office) or online at www.getzcollins.com

The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.

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