Changes to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code that came into effect on New Year’s Day are having a big impact on some small businesses.

One of the new rules says all eligible employees get holiday pay even if they don't work on the holiday.

Under the old law employees had to work at least five of the last nine days to qualify for statutory pay but now they get five percent of their last month's pay whether they work the stat or not.

“Many people are used to getting stat holiday time. What we’ve done is make sure Alberta is in line with other Canadian jurisdictions,” said Alberta Labour Minister, Christina Gray.

The change has caught a lot of businesses off guard and even those who were ready for them say they had to start paying more money the minute the clock ticked into 2018.

Michael Noble runs two restaurants, Notable and Nash, and has 140 employees.

Both of his restaurants are closed on Mondays so everyone had New Year’s Day off but the change meant they were paid anyway.

Noble says that single change to the law cost him $11,000 for January 1st alone.

“I think there’s about five stat holidays that are going to fall on Mondays this year, when I’ve never been closed, and my team are always happy to be off doing what they do on a day off so if we do the math, that will be over $50,000 of additional payroll, which I won’t be able to recuperate in anyway because I believe in giving my team a good life, work life balance, and so I’m not going to start opening on Mondays to compensate for that,” he said.

“It has been really quick and I think, certainly, we’ve heard, it’s caught a lot of our members by surprise,” said Zoe Addington, Calgary Chamber of Commerce Director.

Other changes that went into effect on January 1 determine how and when employees must be paid overtime and how long an employee has to work before they are eligible for benefits.

Another significant payroll change concerns overtime. Previously, employees could bank one hour for each hour of overtime worked but now they will be given credit for one and a half hours per hour worked.

For more information on changes to the Employment Standards Code, click HERE or scroll the document below.

(With files from Kevin Green)

FAQ about changes to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Regulation