Some Numbers On Staff Housing

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Rules for staff housing are different than other types of tenancies, including how much can be deducted from wages for rent.

Staff accommodations are part of all mountain towns. It fills in the gap in the housing market for seasonal staff who are typically looking to rent a room, or just a bed, while they work in town.

There’s a lot of range in what’s offered for seasonal staff, from private dorm rooms without a kitchen to a bedroom (sometimes shared with bunks) inside an apartment and the rates vary accordingly. The Staff Housing Guide for the Bow Valley created in 2019 by the Job Resource Centre highlights this variety.

One thing that comes up when discussing staff housing is how much can be charged for rent. There are many factors that come into play, but since in most cases rent is deducted from the employee’s paycheque there are some rules under the Alberta Employment Standards that must be followed. The rules state that:

Employers can, with written authorization from the employee, reduce the employee’s wages below the minimum wage by a maximum of:

  • $4.41 for each day the employer provides the employee with lodging.
  • $3.35 for each meal consumed by the employee; deductions can’t be made for meals not consumed.

This means that the amount that can be charged for housing is dependent on the wages being paid. Based on staff working 40 hours per week, the most that can be charged is:

  • $4.41 per day (~$132 per month) if they make $15 per hour;
  • $15.84 per day (~$475 per month) if they make $17 per hour; and
  • $32.98 per day (~$989 per month) if they make $20 per hour.

This is based on a weekly pay period with 40 hours of work and 7 nights of lodging. The exact calculations may vary slightly depending on how the minimum wage regulations apply to your situation and your payroll schedule.

Based on staff making $17 per hour, a three-bedroom apartment would bring in a maximum of $1,425 per month with one staff per room and up to $2,850 with two staff per room.

There are discussions to be had in regard to living wages, living conditions, affordability and the costs of housing. We’re only sharing these numbers here as a starting point in those conversations.

Refer to the employment standards or obtain legal advice to find out how this applies to your situation, do not rely on the information shared here.

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