The legislation surrounding farms and ranching working environments has seen changes with the new year.
First passed in 2015, the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act was introduced with new changes at the beginning of 2018.
“On Jan. 1, 2018, the employment standards rules come into force,” said County of Wetaskiwin assistant CAO Rod Hawken during Wetaskiwin county council’s Dec. 19, 2017 general meeting.
The Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act is meant to bring protection and compensation to waged, non-family farm and ranch workers in line with other sectors.
To support the legislative changes, the Government of Alberta has developed a frequently asked questions document and hosted webinars through December to provide an overview of the changes to the Employment Standards Code:
• When changes take effect
• Key rules and entitlements updates
• New rules and entitlements
• The administrative penalty system and other changes to administration and enforcement
• Where to find additional information about employment standards
During council’s meeting Hawken requested the councillors familiarize themselves with the webinars and new information to be able to help ratepayers who may come with questions.
Hawken added everyone in the county may not even be able to access the webinars from home due to rural internet streaming issues.
“It does not include family farms … but if a farm hires even one person,” said reeve Kathy Rooyakkers, referring to what would prompt the legislation to take effect.
Casual, volunteer, non-paid work by a non-family member will not be included under the legislation, says Rooyakkers. However, it was added almost any work by a non-family member on the farm is looked at with the potential to fall under the new legislations, and with that farms will have to address the changes that would come with Bill 30: An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans.