Alberta farm workers should not get overtime pay, working group says
Group says family members who are employed at farms and ranches should be exempt from all employment standards
A group examining ways to apply employment standards to Alberta's agriculture sector recommends that farm workers should not get overtime pay.
The Employment Standards Technical Working Group has been reviewing the standards to see how they could apply to farm and ranch workers.
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The group says standards to deal with pay, employment records, job-protected leaves and termination notice should apply to the workers.
But it recommends having no set hours for work or breaks, and no overtime pay.
It recommends that non-family employees get four days off every 28 days, at the employer's discretion.
The group says family members who are employed at farms and ranches should be exempt from all employment standards.
"The application of standards would be impractical and unfeasible, as well as burdensome, without providing any benefit," the group recommends in a report released Monday.
The group says non-family workers aged 12 and 13 should be allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours per week.
Parental consent needed for young workers
For non-family workers under 16, the work must "not be detrimental to health, education, or welfare and parental consent must be obtained by employers."
It suggests sufficient time be allowed to phase in changes and sessions be offered to teach farm owners about the employment standards.
Another recommendation was that non-family workers under 16 be paid 75 per cent of the minimum wage rate, but that was not agreed to by the whole group.
Alberta passed legislation that took effect in January 2016 to include farm and ranch workers in general occupational health and safety rules.
The changes in that legislation ignited protests at the legislature and threats to Premier Rachel Notley and some of her cabinet.
In May 2016, six technical working groups began developing recommendations on how employment standards, labour relations, and occupational health and safety requirements could be applied to meet the needs of the agriculture industry.
The technical working groups that reviewed employment standards and labour relations, which included members from the agricultural sector, labour groups and technical experts, have completed their work.
Their recommendations are now posted online and Albertans will have until April 3 to give feedback to government.
Government will begin drafting legislative amendments based on the recommendations and any feedback.
Liberal Leader David Swann said he fears the NDP will back down on protecting farm workers.
"The big industrial agriculture operations that are used to having things their way will continue to fight against common-sense regulations ... around employment standards," he said.
"This government desperately wants to build relationships with the rural community."
With files from CBC