Compensation disclosure – Apply for an exemption

Public agency employees and members, and Government of Alberta employees, may be exempt from compensation disclosure if it threatens their safety.

Exemption policy

The only reason an individual can be granted an exemption from compensation disclosure is if the disclosure threatens the individual’s safety.

Annual thresholds for calendar-year earnings

Table 1. Earning threshold for 2023

Employee or memberThreshold for 2023
Public sector body employees$150,219
Public sector body membersNo threshold
Government of Alberta employees$125,888

Public Sector Compensation Act

The Public Sector Compensation Transparency Act (the act) requires:

  • public sector bodies to disclose:
    • employees whose compensation or severance exceeds the annual threshold
    • any compensation to their board members
  • the Government of Alberta to disclose employees who earn a base salary or receive a severance that exceeds the annual threshold

Undue threat to a person’s safety

Such threats are those that would not ordinarily occur because of the nature of the individual’s employment. The applicant must provide facts demonstrating the potential undue threat to the safety of the individual because of the salary disclosure.

Applicants should include all relevant facts.

These examples are not binding on the Deputy Minister of Justice, who grants exemptions, and are for illustration only:

  • the person has long-standing harassment, spousal abuse, or stalking issues
  • the person has received specific and credible threats against their personal safety where the disclosure could be linked to the threat

Generally, exemptions are less likely to be granted when:

  • a potential threat appears to be purely speculative
  • it is unlikely that compensation disclosure will contribute to the inherent safety risks a person already faces in their position
  • the person is merely opposed to the concept of compensation disclosure
  • the person’s name is already published on an employee list, particularly where the organization’s salary ranges are also public or readily accessible

Some reasons applications are denied

Too vague

The applicant states disclosure will adversely affect them but does not identify a specific threat to their safety. Under the act, an applicant must provide reasons for seeking an exemption that are concrete and realistic, not vague or speculative.

Threat unrelated to safety

The applicant states that disclosure will adversely affect them by, for example, breaching their privacy or impacting their peer relationships. Non-safety-related concerns do not meet the statutory test for an exemption.

Threat to safety unrelated to disclosure

The applicant works in a place where they deal with difficult people or a minimal level of risk is inherent in the position. As noted above, the act does not protect against all or any possible threats to safety. The threat must be undue and logically associated with the disclosure of an individual’s salary information.

Job-related safety circumstances

Where an employee is applying for an exemption based on job-related safety circumstances, the Deputy Minister of Justice may ask the applicant’s employer (the public sector body or Government of Alberta) for supporting information.

Each public sector body is required to designate a contact person for the purpose of providing information relating to exemption requests. In job-related applications, the employee may wish to discuss the exemption application ahead of time with the contact person at their place of employment.

The public sector body should advise their assigned official of the contact person.

Exemption period

Exemptions are generally valid for 5 years unless circumstances warrant an earlier expiry date. When the exemption expires, disclosure resumes for the succeeding years. It is the responsibility of the employee or member to monitor the expiry dates for the exemption and re-apply, if necessary.

Table 2. Example of exemption period, if granted.

Calendar yearApplication deadlineYears exemptDeadline to re-apply
2023November 1, 20232023–2027November 1, 2028

When an exemption is granted

Public sector body employee or member

The assigned official will notify the applicant and the public sector body employer. It is the responsibility of the public sector body to not disclose the exempted individual’s compensation.

Government of Alberta employee

The assigned official will notify the employee, the employee’s department, and the person in Technology and Innovation responsible for publishing the disclosure list for the Government of Alberta.

When an exemption is denied

The Deputy Minister’s decision is final and there is no opportunity for the applicant to provide additional information after the decision.

Judicial review of denied exemption

However, the applicant’s employer will withhold disclosure for a period of six months from the date of the decision. Then, should the applicant so choose, they can apply to the court for a judicial review of the decision. An individual may re-apply for an exemption in a subsequent year if their facts or circumstances change.

Exemption granted after disclosure

If an exemption is granted after the public sector body or the Government of Alberta has made its disclosure for that year, the public sector body or the Government of Alberta will be asked to remove the information from disclosure for the current year as soon as possible.

Information for prior years will also be removed, if possible, though the information may have been accessed by the public.

How to apply

The only reason an individual can be granted an exemption from compensation disclosure is if the disclosure threatens the individual’s safety.

Who can apply

  1. Individuals whose safety will be threatened by disclosure of their compensation.
  2. An application for an individual exemption may be made by:
    • a public sector body in relation to an individual employee or member of that body
    • an employee of a public sector body
    • a member of a public sector body
    • a Government of Alberta employee

Note: An individual cannot make an application on behalf of someone else.

Application deadline

Every year, November 1 is the deadline for that calendar year.

For example, if you want a disclosure exemption for your 2023 compensation, you must apply by November 1, 2023.

Application form

Download the Compensation Disclosure Exemption Form

FOIP and your application

The personal information you provide will be used for the purpose of making a determination under section 6(2) of the act and related regulations. It is collected under the authority of section 33(c) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP), and is protected by the privacy provisions of that act. If you have any questions about the collection of this information, you can contact the assigned official for your department or public sector body.