File a Complaint with Employment Standards
Most employers follow Alberta’s employment standards and treat their employees right. They calculate employee pay correctly and they follow the provincial standards on maximum hours in a day, general holidays, maternity leave, etc.
But sometimes employers don’t follow the standards. When this happens, employees may not get the pay they deserve, they might be let go without the proper notice, or they might not be getting the vacation time they have earned.
Step 1 – What’s wrong?
- Is your pay cheque not right?
- Are you missing overtime pay, or vacation pay, or some other kind of pay?
- Are you working too many hours or days?
- Did you not get an equivalent job after you came back from maternity leave?
- Were you terminated without notice or pay?
- Are there deductions on your pay cheque you didn’t expect?
If this has happened to you, here’s what to do…
Step 2 – Figure out what the problem is
- Look at the Frequently Asked Questions to see if your problem is covered.
- Check the Alberta Employment Standards Code and Regulation to make sure you know what your rights are under the law.
- Look at the Standards and Definitions and check the Fact Sheets.
- Read the Employment Standards Tool Kit for Employers to find out how employers should be treating you.
- If you’re still not sure, call Employment Standards at 1‑877‑427‑3731 or 780‑427‑3731 for help.
Step 3 – Think about timing…is that the problem?
If your problem is about regular wages, overtime or some other type of pay, it might be corrected in your next pay cheque. Always wait until the next regular pay day before deciding to file an Employment Standards complaint.
Note – Especially if you have been laid off or terminated, you need to give your employer time to calculate your final pay. In cases where employees have quit without notice, employers have over three weeks to send your money.
Step 4 – If you have a problem, ask your employer to fix it
Even if you no longer work for your employer, you need to talk to your supervisor about your situation and try to sort it out. Contact your supervisor or the human resources department and explain what’s wrong. Many problems are simple errors and can be sorted out quickly.
Step 5 – Put it in writing
If talking with your employer doesn’t solve the problem, write a letter to your employer. Explain the situation and ask the employer to resolve it. Check the Employment Standards Employee Self Help Kit for more information and a sample letter.
Using email is OK, but make sure you keep the emails you send and any you receive from your employer. If you do file a complaint, you’ll be asked to show the letter or emails you sent to your employer and any letters or email you got back.
Note – Government will not get involved with your situation unless you can demonstrate that you have already tried to work things out with your employer. That’s why it’s important to write down your concerns, take notes during conversations with your employer and keep copies of your letters or email.
Step 6 – If it’s still not right
If you have tried to work things out with your employer and it’s still not right, you can file an Employment Standards complaint. The government will investigate if appropriate. Remember – it is your right to be paid properly for the work you have done, and to be treated according to provincial standards.
|Tip: If your employer has gone out of business or is going bankrupt, submit your Employment Standards claim immediately. There may only be a short time when money can be recovered.|
Step 7 – So, do you want to file a claim?
Here are some important points to remember if you plan to file a claim:
- If you were fired or laid off, you have up to six months to file a claim. An extension may be granted, but only if you can prove you were unable to file on time because you were seriously ill (medical documents will be required), or if you were a member of a union and you were given an arbitration award that does not meet minimum provincial standards (proof of the award will be required).
- If your claim is accepted for investigation, your name will be given to your employer as part of the process.
- If you submit a claim you may not hear from Employment Standards for 12 weeks or more. Depending on the complexity of the claim, it may take up to a year to be concluded. Be prepared to wait.
- You need to gather information about your complaint, including: pay stubs, statement of earnings, your employment contract, overtime agreement and any other employment records you have. You will be asked for this information plus the letters you sent to your employer, any responses you got back, and any notes that you made during conversations with your employer.
Note – If you do not have evidence to support your complaint, Employment Standards will not investigate your concerns.
Here is a brief outline of how the process works:
|The Employment Standards complaint process|
Step 8 – How to file a complaint
OK, you have decided that your employer has not followed provincial standards and you have tried to fix the problem yourself. Go through the checklist below:
- Checked provincial standards and figure out what the problem is?
- Called the Employment Standards Contact Centre to discuss the problem?
- Sent a letter to your employer explaining the situation and asking for the problem to be fixed?
- Kept copies of your letter and any letters sent to you by your employer?
- Waited at least until the next regular pay day?
- Gathered your employment records, such as old pay stubs, your job offer letter or employment contract, your overtime agreement or any other information?
If you answered ‘yes’ to all of the questions above, you are ready to file a complaint.
Send in a complaint using the online filing system.
Tips: As you fill in your complaint, you will be asked questions about your job such as your rate of pay, the date you started work, your supervisor’s name, the address of the business, etc.
It takes about 20 minutes to fill in the complaint form. Have your records with you when you fill in the form to make it easy to get the information needed. You will need to send copies of these records in before an investigation can begin.
After submitting a complaint, you can check the status as it moves through the investigation process by selecting Check your complaint status and entering your complaint filing reference number.
For help with:
- Record of Employment (ROE) – contact Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Employment Insurance toll-free at 1‑800‑367‑5693 (employers) and 1‑800‑206‑7218 (employees).
- Discrimination in the area of employment practices, job ads and applications – contact Alberta Human Rights Commission in Edmonton at 780‑427‑7661 or in Calgary at 403‑297‑6571. To be connected toll-free from outside the Edmonton and Calgary areas, dial 310‑0000, then the area code and number you are calling.
- Recovery of expenses incurred while on the job (living expenses, gasoline, meal expenses) – for information on recovering expenses please contact the nearest Provincial Court, Civil Division.
- T4 Slips – contact the Canada Revenue Agency toll-free at 1‑800‑959‑8281 or 1‑800‑267‑6999.
For more information, or to discuss your personal situation, call the Employment Standards Contact Centre toll-free at 1‑877‑427‑3731. In Edmonton and surrounding areas dial 780‑427‑3731.