Working Wise | DrumhellerMail - Page #45
Last updateTue, 21 May 2024 12am

Vacation pay


Dear Working Wise:

My employer recently started to pay vacation pay of 4% only on regular wages when earlier it was paid on regular plus overtime wages. Can you please clarify whether vacation pay is payable on only regular pay or regular plus overtime pay.

Signed, Vacation Cut Short


Dear Cut Short:


With the summer fast approaching, vacation pay may be a little more top-of-mind for those of us planning a summer getaway.


Your employer is right to pay you vacation pay only on your regular hours. Vacation pay is based on your regular wages, which do not include overtime, general holiday pay, unearned bonuses, gratuities, termination pay, expenses or allowances.


Vacation and vacation-pay entitlements are intended to ensure that you have a rest from work without loss of income.


Employees are entitled to two weeks of vacation with pay after one year of employment. After five years of employment, they are entitled to three weeks vacation with pay.


Vacations must be taken sometime in the 12 months after the employee becomes entitled to the vacation.


If you are unable to take your vacation, your employer can pay you vacation pay in lieu.


Employees who are paid by the hour receive vacation pay as a percentage of their wages.


"Wages" includes any previously paid vacation pay, but does not include overtime earnings, general holiday pay, pay in lieu of a notice of termination or an unearned bonus.


In the first four years of employment, minimum vacation pay is four per cent of earned wages. In the fifth and subsequent years, minimum vacation pay increases to six per cent.


Vacations must be given in one unbroken period unless the employee requests to take their vacation in shorter periods. This is permissible so long as those periods are at least one day long.


If a mutually acceptable time for the employee's vacation cannot be found, the employer can decide on the time. However, the employee must receive at least two weeks written notice of the start date of their vacation. The employee must take their vacation at that time.


Part-time employees

Part-time employees have the same vacation and vacation-pay entitlements as full-time employees. The one important distinction is that their vacation or vacation pay will reflect their reduced hours. For example, part-time employees who only work two days per week are entitled to four paid vacation days after one year of employment.


Construction workers

Construction workers are not usually given annual vacation time, but are entitled to vacation pay. All construction employees (full-time and part-time) must be paid vacation pay equal to six per cent of the employee's wages.


Other workers who are exempt from vacations and vacation pay entitlements:

·         employees on a farm or a ranch

·         salespersons working mainly away from the employer's premises who solicit orders for later delivery

·         professionals such as real estate brokers, and licensed insurance and securities salespersons

·         extras in a film or video production

·         employees covered by other Acts (e.g., academic staff)

·         municipal police officers


For more information on Vacation Pay entitlements, visit:


Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at Charles Strachey is a regional manager with Alberta Employment and Immigration. This column is provided for general information.


Quick Careers


Dear Working Wise:

I was recently laid off from a job with a cabinet manufacturer. The job was OK, but it didn’t pay all that well. I need a better-paying job, but I can’t go back to school for four years before I can start earning a living again. What are my options? Signed, Quick Career Wanted


Dear Quick:


For some people, spending up to four years studying for a career is not an option. You may not be able to free up the time or want to invest that much time and money in an education.


If you’re looking for job-specific training, you may want to investigate training options at Alberta’s many colleges and technical institutes. They offer programs that can range in length from four months to one year.


There are also many private vocation schools and colleges that offer short-term training for specific careers.


Earning your Class-one license, for example, can take between four and six weeks depending on your experience. And class-one drivers can earn between $15 and $30 per hour depending on the industry they work in and whether the work is in-town or out-of-town.


Online- and distance-learning courses enable you to maintain employment while upgrading your skills and are also available through many colleges and institutions. 


You might also want to consider a career in one of Alberta’s 50 registered trades. Registered Apprentices spend about 80 per cent of their time earning a paycheck while they learn on the job. For more information on the wide variety of career options in the trades, check out


Alberta Occupational Profiles (OCCinfo) is a database of more than 500 careers that you can search by job title, industry, subject and interest. You can also use the database’s advanced search by anticipated demand, physical strength required, and required training. 


I performed a quick search of careers that require one year or less of post-secondary training and found more than 100 occupations. You can try searching the database yourself at:


Here are just a few examples of careers that require a year or less of formal training: Accounting Technician; Airline Ticket Agent; Appliance Service Technician; Bartender; Baker; Bus Driver; Bylaw Officer; Canadian Forces Officer; Cardiology Technologist; Carpet Cleaner; Child Care Provider; Courier; Dental Assistant; Embalmer; Emergency Medical Technician/Responder (EMT/EMR); Esthetician; Flight Attendant; Floral Designer; Health Care Aid; Heavy Equipment Operator; Hospital Unit Clerk; Jeweler; Locksmith; Meat Cutter; Medical Lab Assistant; Mortgage Associate; Motorcycle Mechanic; Non-destructive Testing Technician; Pet Groomer; Pharmacy Technician; Security Officer; Shuttle-bus Driver; Truck Driver; and Well Service/Testing Technician.


Check out these quick careers and many others on the OCCinfo database.


For more information on short-term training options:

  • Visit;
  • Call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753; or
  • Visit your nearest Labour Market Information Centre (LMIC) and ask to speak to a Career and Employment Consultant. You can find your nearest LMIC by visiting 


Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at Charles Strachey is a regional manager with Alberta Employment and Immigration. This column is provided for general information.


Fall Prevention


Fall Protection


Dear Working Wise:

I visit construction sites all around Alberta as part of my job and I am constantly amazed to see roofers and framers working high up with no safety lines. Aren’t they supposed to be tied off or something? Signed – Concerned Contractor.


Dear Concerned:


Yes, anyone working at a height of three metres or more is required to use fall protection.


Falls, from any height, are a common cause of serious injury and even death in the workplace. In fact, of the 23 workplace incidents that have been reported to Alberta Occupational Health and Safety this year (since January 1, 2010), eight involved falls.


The following story illustrates why everyone should use fall protection.


A roofer and his helper were installing shingles on a two-storey house. The roofer only had one harness and so he made his helper wear it. The roofer tripped and fell into his helper – causing them both to fall from the roof. The roofer fell eight metres and sustained serious injuries. His helper was bruised but walked away from the fall.


Workers can wear a full body harness attached to an anchor point. They can also be protected with guardrails or some other restraint system that would prevent them from getting too close to the edge.


Section 139 of Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety Code states that fall protection is necessary when "the worker may fall three metres or more," or when "there is an unusual possibility of injury if a worker falls less than three metres."


For example, fall protection is necessary if the worker could land on something other than a solid, flat surface, like uncapped rebar or other construction materials.


The three-metre fall distance is measured from the point from which a worker may fall, from their feet to the lower level. The vertical height that a worker may roll or slide down the sloped roof before they lose contact with the roof is not considered to be part of the "fall distance." If the worker is working close to the gable end of a roof (in residential construction) then that height is included.


If you come across a worksite where workers are up high and clearly not protected, you can call Workplace Health and Safety at 1-866-415-8690. They will send an occupational health and safety officer to check out the scene.


The Alberta Construction Safety Association has a set of guidelines to help workers minimize the risks associated with the use of fall protection equipment. Here are some of ACSA's precautions for individual workers:

·         Know the capabilities of the fall protection equipment.

·         Ensure the safety line is the right length for the height and it fits properly.

·         Know the anchor points on the building.

·         Do not wrap the lanyards or rope around beams, girders, or pipes.

·         Use the buddy system. Workers should check each other's harness and lines.


It is the employer's responsibility to ensure that their workers are protected as much as possible. That includes having the proper equipment on site and ensuring that all employees are trained in its use. Employers should ensure that only competent trained workers are up on the roof or other structure.


Unfortunately, complacency happens. Workers forget, get too busy or in some cases, don't bother using their safety equipment. For the unlucky ones, their complacency catches up with them and that's when injuries happen.


For more information on fall protection or any other workplace health and safety issues, go to or


Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at Charles Strachey is a regional manager with Alberta Employment and Immigration. This column is provided for general information.


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