Working Wise | DrumhellerMail - Page #19
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Last updateThu, 01 Dec 2022 3pm

I haven’t had a coffee break in two years, because we’re always short staffed. I asked my boss if I can take the two coffee breaks as a single 30-minute paid lunch break, but he said no. What are the rules around breaks?

Dear Working Wise:

I haven’t had a coffee break in two years, because we’re always short staffed. I asked my boss if I can take the two coffee breaks as a single 30-minute paid lunch break, but he said no. What are the rules around breaks? Signed, Gimme a break

 

Dear Gimme:

 

Alberta’s Employment Standards require most employers to provide their employees with breaks and rest periods.

 

During each shift of five hours or more, an employee is entitled to at least 30 minutes of rest, except where it is unreasonable or impossible. For example, you wouldn’t want an administrative staff member to go on a coffee-break mid-way through taking minutes during a legal deposition.

 

However, breaks can be paid, or unpaid, at the employer's discretion. The 30 minutes can also be taken all at once or broken into shorter periods as long as it totals 30 minutes.

 

I think that it is important to mention here that Alberta’s Employment Standards are the minimum standards and that many employers exceed these standards, because short, frequent breaks have been shown to increase productivity in the workplace.

 

For example, many employers offer their full-time staff (those working seven or more hours per day) a lunch break plus two paid 15-minute “coffee” breaks. No matter what an employer decides, they should outline the number and length of break periods as part of their staffing policies and ensure their current and new staff know what the break policy is.

 

Employees also need breaks between shifts. Employers are not allowed to work their staff longer than a 12-hour period in a workday unless some emergency occurs or the employer has a permit authorizing extended hours of work. This means, for example, that an employee who begins work at 8 a.m. cannot work past 8 p.m.

 

Employees must get at least eight hours rest from when their last shift ended to when the new one begins.

 

With rest days, employers must provide employees with one day of rest each week, or two consecutive days of rest in each period of two consecutive weeks of work, three days for three weeks of work, and so on. After 24 consecutive days of work, employees must be provided with at least four consecutive days of rest.

 

Some occupations are exempt from the minimum standards set by Alberta’s Employment Standards when it comes to hours of work, rest periods and days of rest, including oil-well services, truck drivers, law enforcement, and some professional and sales positions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For a complete list of exempt occupations or for more information on Alberta’s Employment Standards, visit www.employment.alberta.ca/es.

 

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.


My 16-year-old-son just started working part-time in the lumber yard at a local hardware store and I’m a little worried about how safe he is at work. There are trucks and forklifts moving heavy loads all the time in there. Do you have any tips to help him

 

Dear Working Wise:

My 16-year-old-son just started working part-time in the lumber yard at a local hardware store and I’m a little worried about how safe he is at work. There are trucks and forklifts moving heavy loads all the time in there. Do you have any tips to help him stay safe? Signed, Worried

 

Dear Worried:

You are right to be concerned. Young workers, aged 15-24, are more likely to be injured at work than more experienced workers.

 

No job is worth losing a finger, an eye or a life. One thing you can do is ask your son questions that will give you a better idea if he’s safe at work. These questions might also get him thinking about safety at work:

- What tasks do you perform?

- Do you work with chemicals?

- Did you get any safety training?

- Are you tired at work or school?

- Do you lift and carry heavy objects?

- Does your supervisor work near you?

- Do you know the hazards of your job?

- Do you have to climb or work at heights?

- Do you know you should report any injury that happens at work?

- Do you use protective equipment and were you trained to use it properly?

- Would you feel comfortable telling your supervisor about a safety concern?

- Does your supervisor notice and correct you when you are not working safely?

- Do you know your rights and responsibilities for a safe and healthy workplace?

 

Worker Rights and Responsibilities:

- Right to know the hazards of your job and how to prevent injuries;

- Right and responsibility to refuse unsafe work;

- Responsibility to follow safety procedures, ask for training, and use personal protective equipment;

- Responsibility to report safety hazards and injuries immediately to your supervisor.

 

Employer Responsibilities

Employers must do everything reasonably possible to protect workers from injury or illness. The employer must ensure that workers have the training and equipment they need to protect themselves. Employers must also adhere to the minimum age requirements for working in Alberta.

 

Minimum Age Requirements

Minimum Age Requirements help keep younger workers safe by limiting their exposure to hazards like hot grills, sharp knives, large moving equipment, etc. The limits vary by age. You can learn more by reading Your Child At Work at http://www.whs.gov.ab.ca.

 

You can help your son stay safe at work by encouraging him to ask his supervisor about the hazards of his job and teaching him how to appropriately ask for safety training. You can help your son understand the importance of safety at work by using real-life examples.

 

If you’d like more advice and tips, read X-Treme Safety: A Survival Guide for New and Young Workersat http://alis.alberta.ca/pdf/cshop/xtremesafety.pdf.

 

You can also encourage your son to check out the http://bloodylucky.ca web site that features short videos based on actual workplace incidents involving young workers.

 

If you need help with a concern involving the health and safety of your son’s workplace, call the Occupational Health and Safety contact centre toll-free at 1-866-415-8690 (780-415-8690 in Edmonton).

 

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information

I am about to graduate with a diploma in business administration, but I’m worried about finding a job. Do you have any tips to help me land my first job?

Dear Working Wise:

I am about to graduate with a diploma in business administration, but I’m worried about finding a job. Do you have any tips to help me land my first job? Signed, Eager Graduate

 

Dear Eager:

 

Congratulations on completing your program. Alberta is full of opportunity right now with the second-lowest unemployment rate in the country. Here are some tips to help you tap into the opportunities and put your education to good use.

 

Use your school

Ask the chair of your program for advice and suggestions about where to look for jobs. Put your school’s career services office to work for you. These offices usually provide help with resumés and job searches. Employers interested in hiring new graduates often post jobs on their job boards.

 

Polish your resumé

Is your resumé representing you as well as it should? Recruiters spend as little as 30 seconds glancing at your resumé—does yours scream “I’m perfect for this job”? Check out the resumé tips on the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) web site at http://bit.ly/ISpj0B. Always include a cover letter with your resumé and use it to quickly explain why you are the perfect candidate for the job. Want an expert opinion on your resumé? Use the free ALIS e-Resumé review service at http://alis.alberta.ca.

 

Attend job fairs

Did you know that there are job fairs happening all year long around the province? Check out upcoming job fairs near you at http://employment.alberta.ca/jobfairs.

 

Like your local Facebook jobs page

Get job opportunities and news of upcoming job fairs sent straight to your Facebook news feed by liking your local Alberta Works Facebook jobs page http://bit.ly/IGmZK4.

 

Network

Fewer than half of all jobs are advertised. Let your network of friends, family and teachers along with your former employers know that you are looking for a job. Networking is a great way to tap into the hidden job market. Send everyone you know an email letting them know what kind of job you’re looking for along with a quick summary of your skills, training and experience or a link to your Linked-In profile. And don’t forget to update, clean up, and use your social networking sites.

 

Expand your job search

Some grads make the mistake of limiting their job search to a specific occupation, industry, or organization type. Take inventory of your transferable skills—like organizational, computer, and time-management skills—and consider opportunities in related occupations and industries. Don’t forget to check out small businesses and not-for-profit organizations.

 

Register with recruitment agencies

Agencies will not look for a job for you, but they will call you if you are a good match for a position they are recruiting for. Registering with recruitment agencies is free, takes very little time, and is another great way to tap into the hidden job market. You can start by checking out http://alis.alberta.ca/js/ws/jp/jobpostings/ea.html.

 

Use ALIS Finding Work

Visit the Finding Work page on the ALIS web site at http://alis.alberta.ca/worksearch/finding-work.html for ideas on how to meet employers, use news stories to identify potential jobs, and use job-search websites to find opportunities.

 

Visit an Alberta Works Centre

Visit your nearest Alberta Works Centre http://employment.alberta.ca/offices and ask a Career & Employment Consultant for advice on your job search.

 

Good luck!

 

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.

 


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