Employment standards penalties and prosecutions

Employers who don’t meet the minimum employment standards or fail to comply with an enforcement action may face additional penalties.

The legislation on this page is now in effect

For information on Employment Standards legislation that was in force until December 31, 2017, go to https://work.alberta.ca/employment-standards-2017.html

Basic rules

  • All employers must meet the minimum standards in the workplace set out in the Employment Standards Code.
  • Failure to meet the minimum standards may result in enforcement actions through an investigation process by Employment Standards.
  • Failure to comply with Employment Standards or enforcement action may lead to an administrative penalty and possible prosecution.
  • Multiple offences can lead to progressive penalties applied.

What's an administrative penalty?

An administrative penalty can be used to deter an employer from:

  • contravening or failing to comply with the standards and requirements under the Code or Regulation, or
  • failing to comply with an authorizing instrument or enforcement action

Administrative penalties may be issued for:

Notice or direction to comply

Employment Standards may issue a notice or direction to an employer as a warning that they must comply with the Code and Regulation, an authorizing instrument or enforcement action

No fee or penalty is issued with a notice or direction to comply, but if an employer continues to be non-compliant, an administrative penalty will follow.

A notice or direction to comply contains:

  • the particulars of the legislation, authorizing instrument or enforcement action for which non-compliance has been detected
  • the action the employer shall take or refrain from taking in order to comply with the direction; and
  • the date by which the employer must comply

Notice of administrative penalty

When ongoing non-compliance is identified, and an employer receives a notice of an administrative penalty, the employer may be required to pay:

  • an amount  assessed for each day the contravention or failure to comply occurs or continues
    • no daily administrative penalty amount may exceed $10,000
  • a  one-time amount based on the economic benefit the employer has derived  from the contravention

A notice of administrative penalty may be issued within 2 years of the alleged contravention or failure to comply. Penalty amounts will increase with repeat contraventions if the contraventions occur within 3 years of each other.

When the administrative penalty has been paid within 21 days of receiving the notice and compliance with Employment Standards has been met, no further action will be taken.

Administrative penalties

Administrative penalties may be issued in a progressive manner for each repeat contravention. When a contravention is identified, a penalty may be applied per employee affected.

Minimum penalty amounts may increase based on the circumstances of the contravention or failure to comply.

The following table outlines the minimum administrative penalty minimums:

Employment Standards Code/Employment Standards Regulation Minimum Administrative Penalty for 1st contravention or failure to comply Minimum Administrative Penalty for 2nd contravention of the 1st contravention, or 1st repetition of a failure to comply, within 3 years Minimum Administrative Penalty for 3rd or subsequent contravention of the 1st contravention, or 2nd repetition of a failure to comply, within 3 years
LEVEL 1 – Minimum Administrative Penalty

- Part 2, Divisions 1 to 8, except Divisions 7 to 7.6, of the Act;
- Section 79 of Part 3, Division 2 of the Act;
- Section 91 of Part 3, Division 3 of the Act;
- Sections 7 to 13 of
Part 2 of the Regulation;
- Part 2.1 of the Regulation;
- Part 3, Divisions 1 to 11 of the Regulation;
-  Sections 46 to 50 of Part 4 of the Regulation;

$500.00 $1000.00 $2000.00
LEVEL 2 – Minimum Administrative Penalty
- Part 2, Divisions 7 to 7.6 of the Act;
- Section 128 of the Act with respect;
- Sections 51 to 54.01
of Part 5 of the Regulation;
- Part 5.1 of the Regulation;
- Schedule 3 of the Regulation;
$1000.00 $2000.00 $4000.00
LEVEL 3 – Minimum Administrative Penalty
- Part 3, Division 1, sections 74 to 74.1 of the Act
- Sections 78 to 78.1 and 81 of Part 3, Division 2 of the Act;
- Sections 125, 127,
128 and 137 of Part 5, Division 1 of the Act.
$1500.00 $3000.00 $6000.00

Appealing an administrative penalty

If an employer believes they’ve been wrongfully issued a notice of administrative penalty, they may appeal the notice to the appeal body within 21 days after the date the notice was served. The appeal must be submitted to Employment Standards with the associated fee. When the appeal process begins, the administrative penalty is put on hold until the appeal body makes a decision or the appeal is withdrawn.


Any contravention or failure to comply may be prosecuted as an offence under the Code. Prosecution must take place within 2 years after the date on which the alleged offence occurred and would be reserved for only the most flagrant violations.

When a corporation commits an offence under the Code, every director or officer of the corporation who directed, authorized, assented to, permitted, participated in or acquiesced is guilty of the offence, whether or not the corporation has been prosecuted for or convicted of the offence.

How the law applies

Part 4.1 of the Employment Standards Code and Part 6.1 and Schedule 2 of the Regulation outlines the administrative penalties process.

Disclaimer: In the event of any discrepancy between this information and Alberta Employment Standards legislation, the legislation is considered correct.

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