Is Your Business Facing Financial Challenges In Light Of Recent Changes to Alberta Labour Laws?

Whoever coined the phrase ‘death by a thousand cuts’ probably owned a restaurant or small business in Alberta.

The Alberta Treasury Board and Finance released their September 2018 Labour Market Notes, which contain the analysis of the latest labour market data for Alberta and highlighted that the economy continues to stabilize. With employment increasing 2.3% year-over-year, the majority of job growth was seen in the private sector, with a jump of 94,000 jobs since June, 2016. With the unemployment rate holding steady at 6.7%, it appears that Alberta is heading towards recovery and a brighter economic outlook.

While the Alberta job market may be coming out of the “doom and gloom” of the past few years, many small to medium sized businesses are still struggling. The prolonged downturn has resulted in many businesses exhausting their cash flow. Not only can these business owners expect to work long hours, wear multiple hats and have difficulty finding reliable help, they are now being thrown additional curveballs with recent adjustments to the minimum wage and labour laws, adding additional challenges.

Increase In Minimum Wage

In 2016, the minimum wage was $12.20 in Alberta. On October 1st of 2018, the minimum wage reached the $15.00 mark. That’s an increase of almost 23 per cent (22.95) in just two years. While some small businesses may not have any employees at minimum wage, others may have several. They may also find that experienced employees, who are making just slightly more than minimum wage, may want an increase to keep the separation between themselves and new employees. It’s likely that the increase in minimum wage will cause a trickle effect up the ladder in wage increases.

Statutory Holiday Pay Entitlements

A recent change that went into effect on January 1st, 2018, was introduced to Alberta Labour Laws regarding statutory holiday pay requirements. Most employees are now entitled to general holiday pay immediately upon starting employment and will receive pay regardless of the day of the week the general holiday falls on. Some Alberta business owners are learning the significance of this change. For example, a small business owner in Calgary, who owns two restaurants, had never scheduled either establishments to be open for business on Mondays. The first statutory holiday of the year was January 1st and it fell on a Monday. Although it was not a scheduled workday for any of his employees, the owner was required to pay $11,000 in stat holiday pay to his staff. And that is just the first of many stat holidays to fall on a Monday this year. During the course of the year, this business owner will have to pay over $50,000 in stat holiday pay. Not only is it an expense he didn’t have last year, there will be no incoming revenue to offset that expense.

How To Adjust Your Business To Meet Changes In Labour Laws

While our economy may be on the long-term path to recovery, for some small and medium businesses, things could get worse before they get better. There is no doubt that many businesses will need to rethink how they operate going forward. Owning a business comes with both challenges and rewards, and occasionally a business needs help.

If you’re finding that these market conditions and regulatory changes have a negative impact on the financial health of your businesses – we’re here to help. A Business Review could result in strategic corporate restructuring that would help your business maximize profits rather than sinking into debt. We’ve helped hundreds of Alberta business turn a financial corner.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, book a free and confidential consultation. There are 16 locations across the province to help you.