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The Practice Advisors regularly get asked whether articling students must be paid. The answer is YES.
Section 2 of the Employment Standards Code, RSA 2000, c E-9 states that the Code “applies to all employers and employees” except as exempted. Under neither the Code nor the accompanying Regulation are lawyers or articling students exempted from the basic minimum wage employment standards.
The current preamble to the Code articulates the underlying principles:
“RECOGNIZING that a mutually effective relationship between employees and employers is critical to the capacity of Albertans to prosper in the competitive world-wide market economy of which Alberta is a part;
ACKNOWLEDGING that it is fitting that the worth and dignity of all Albertans be recognized by the Legislature of Alberta through legislation that encourages fair and equitable resolution of matters arising over terms and conditions of employment;
REALIZING that the employee-employer relationship is based on a common interest in the success of the employing organization, best recognized through open and honest communication between affected parties;”
While the focus of the articling student and principal relationship should not be the student’s profitability, firms/organizations can take steps so that where appropriate, the student can contribute to the firm’s/organization’s financial income while learning to work efficiently. Some key steps include:
- Making it a priority, as soon as a student starts, to teach them the organization’s billing processes and procedures.
- Teaching the student to be efficient in their time keeping. If you usually bill monthly, ensure the student has their time recorded before that date. Wherever possible, ensure that students are billing “live” and not entering their time after the fact.
- Effective mentoring may allow students to become immediate and efficient contributors to the bottom line. While it may seem like overseeing your student’s work is time lost, if your student has effective instruction, they will learn more quickly and will become increasingly independent.