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Changes to banked overtime, holiday pay and youth minimum wage introduced in legislature

Rollbacks of the previous government's changes to banked overtime, holiday pay and union certification votes were introduced in the Alberta legislature Monday by the new United Conservative government.

New youth minimum wage of $13 an hour due would take effect June 26

Restaurant industry groups are supporting a rollback of some of the changes made by the previous NDP government. (Liam Britten)

Rollbacks of the previous government's changes to banked overtime, holiday pay and union certification votes were introduced in the Alberta legislature Monday by the new United Conservative Party government.

The government also announced a new $13-an-hour minimum wage for youth, which would take effect on June 26.

The lower wage would apply to students under the age of 18 who work 28 hours or less a week. It would also apply for all hours worked during summer holidays, Christmas and other school breaks.

Premier Jason Kenney said the wage change will be passed via an order in council.

"This will enable job creators to hire more young people who are just starting out in the work force," he said. "It will help them gain job skills and experience that will lead to opportunities for higher pay."

Kenney said youth workers will still be making more at $13 than adults in many other provinces. 

"Thirteen bucks an hour is a heck of a lot more than zero bucks an hour, and that's the option here," he said. 

Karissa Goulding doesn't think the changes are fair. The 16-year-old high school student works as a server in a Fort Saskatchewan restaurant.

She said her father was laid off for a period last year and her job helped pay for necessities.

"The government is telling me that my work is not valued as my adult colleagues," she said at an NDP news conference against the changes. "I would just like to ask Mr. Kenney why I deserve a pay cut compared to my adult colleagues."

Bill 2, the Open for Business Act, would make changes to the Employment Standards Code so that employees must work 30 days before being entitled to holiday pay.

Workers would only receive holiday pay for days they would normally be scheduled to work — for example, a restaurant that is normally closed on Mondays wouldn't have to pay their staff holiday pay for Thanksgiving if they aren't working.

The previous NDP government changed the rules to banked overtime so that workers who bank an hour of overtime can take an hour and a half of time off.

UCP picking workers' pockets: NDP 

Bill 2 proposes changing that back to a straight hour for hour exchange. If the banked time isn't used within six months, it would be paid out in cash at time and a half.

Kenney said regulations, tax increases and "radical changes to Alberta labour law" passed by the NDP government were hard on business.

The NDP — now the province's official opposition — called the UCP's proposed legislation the "Pick Your Pockets Bill."

Kenney said changes to banked overtime will help restaurant servers work a few extra hours during busy periods in order to earn more in tips.

But NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley said the new rules will apply to everyone.

"Albertans in oil and gas, construction and the skilled trades will actually be hit the hardest," she said. "These are Albertans who are working to project deadlines who often put in the extra hours just to get the job done."

Bill 2 also proposes a return to a secret ballot for all union certification votes. A vote could only be held after a union could prove 40 per cent support from workers. The time period to provide that proof is cut in half from six months to 90 days.

The NDP changed the rules last year so that a vote wouldn't need to be held if a union could demonstrate it had the support of 60 per cent of workers. 

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