There are some things you need to know before you make a complaint:
- Talk to your employer – this is the first step in trying to resolve an employment standards issue in the workplace.
- A complaint can be made if you think your employer is not following the rules in the Employment Standards Code.
- Complaints can be made while you are still employed and at any time up to 6 months after your last day of employment.
- Complaints can be submitted online and there is no cost.
- Your employer cannot terminate your employment because you make, or are about to make a complaint.
- Complaints that are submitted must be truthful.
Ensure you are familiar with all the steps below before you begin the complaint process.
Complaints vs. anonymous tips
There are 2 options available if you think your employer is not following employment standards rules: a complaint and an anonymous tip. You will need to choose which option best suits your needs.
You can make a formal complaint about your situation. Making a complaint can lead to getting paid earnings that you are owed or having other workplace issues resolved. Complaints may be investigated by employment standards following the complaint resolution process.
In order for Employment Standards to investigate a complaint, your name will be associated with the complaint. Your name will also be shared with the employer.
Your employer cannot terminate your employment because you make, or are about to make a complaint.
You can tell us about an employer who is not following employment standards rules. Your name will not be associated with the tip and you will not be informed of the status or any investigation findings.
Your anonymous tip may be investigated by employment standards.
An anonymous tip can be made by any person and is not limited to only employees.
For more details and to submit a tip, see Anonymous tip.
Check your eligibility
All of the following must be true in order to make a complaint to Employment Standards.
Requirements to make a complaint
Work performed in Alberta
Alberta Employment Standards can only investigate complaints where the work has been performed in Alberta. The location of the head office or corporate registration of the employer is not relevant, only where you do your work.
Work in a provincially regulated industry
The majority of employees in Alberta are regulated by the province. Some industries are regulated by the federal government. If your industry is federally regulated, different rules apply.
To find if your industry is federally regulated, see Federally regulated industries.
Not covered by a collective (union) agreement
Some employees work under an agreement negotiated collectively with their employer. These are often called unionized workplaces.
In these situations, issues between employees and employers are resolved through the grievance process and not through an employment standards complaint.
If you believe a union has not appropriately represented your concerns, the Alberta Labour Relations Board may be able to assist you.
Classified as an employee (vs. a contractor)
Employment standards rules only apply to employees. They do not apply to contractors or self-employed individuals.
If you are a contractors or self-employed and are experiencing workplace issues, you may wish to seek legal counsel.
What a complaint can be about
Complaints can only be made about issues covered by Alberta Employment standards
Wages and overtime
- overtime pay
- minimum wage
- entitlement to other compensation as outlined in an employment agreement
- overtime banking
Holidays and vacations
Getting paid and deductions
- unexpected or unauthorized deductions on a paycheque
- pay statements
- payment of earnings within 10 days of the end of a pay period
Hours of work and rest
- Termination while on a job protected leave
Termination of employment
Other workplace issues not covered by Employment Standards
Records of Employment (ROE)
An employee’s Record of Employment is a matter administered by the Government of Canada. For more information, visit the Government of Canada.
Employment Insurance (EI)
Employment Insurance is a program administered by the Government of Canada. For more information, visit the Government of Canada.
Workplace health and safety
For concerns about workplace health and safety, contact Occupational Health and Safety (OHS).
Workers Compensation Board (WCB) claim
For information on WCB claims, contact WCB.
Alberta Human Rights legislation protects against discrimination on a number of protected grounds. If you are concerned that an employer’s policies or practices are in violation of human rights legislation, contact the Alberta Human Rights Commission.
Tax deductions are administered by the Government of Canada. For more information, contact the Canada Revenue Agency.
Things to check before making a complaint
Some industries have exceptions to the general employment standards rules. To learn more, see Industry exceptions.
Your employer might have something called a variance. This is permission from the government for your employer to follow different rules. If a variance applies to you, your employer must provide you a copy of the variance.
Court action on the same matter
Employment standards may not be able to investigate a complaint when there is ongoing court action on the same matter.
Bankruptcies and receiverships
Employment Standards may have limited ability to resolve a complaint if the employer is:
- under bankruptcy protection
- In this case, you need to apply to the federal government’s Wage Earner Protection Program.
- Employment Standards has no jurisdiction over these cases. It is recommended that you contact the trustee.
- in receivership
- You may need to submit an Employment Standards complaint to establish yourself as a secured creditor.
- It is recommended that you contact the trustee for additional information.
- The trustee may recommend that you apply to the federal government’s Wage Earner Protection Program.
- under bankruptcy protection
Before you start a complaint
Wait one pay period
Some issues with wages and other earnings will be fixed by your employer on your next pay cheque. Before submitting a complaint, wait one pay period to see if the issue is resolved on the next pay statement
If the matter is urgent, for example, job-protected leaves, then waiting one pay period is not required.
Talk to your employer
Some workplace issues can be resolved by talking with your employer. Talking with your employer to resolve an issue is always the first step before submitting a complaint. If the issue cannot be resolved directly with your employer, then you can submit a complaint.
Gather your documents
Providing records to support your complaint will help to resolve your complaint.
It is a good idea to gather your documents before starting your complaint, including:
- hourly wage or annual salary
- employer’s address
- at least 2 methods of contact (for example, email and phone number)
- timesheets or records of hours worked
- Record of Employment (ROE)
- overtime banking agreement (if applicable)
- averaging arrangement (if applicable)
- employment contract (if applicable)
Start a complaint
The online complaint system collects information about how to contact your, your employer, and the details of your complaint. You can also upload documents that support your complaint.
If you are unable to submit a complaint online, assistance is available. For more details, contact Employment Standards.
Create or sign in to your account
To submit a complaint, you need to login with your Alberta.ca Account.
If you already have an account, you will be asked to login with your username and password.
If you do not have an account, you will be asked to create an account. There is no cost to create an account.
Saving a complaint
There is the option at each step to save your complaint and return at a later time. You can go back to modify your complaint until it is submitted.
Continue or submit a complaint
Login to your account to continue a saved complaint or submit your complaint.
Complaint resolution process
After a complaint has been submitted and reviewed, Employment Standards will contact you to discuss your concerns. See Complaint resolution for more information on the process.
Check the status of your complaint
You can check the status of your complaint after it has been submitted.
Log in to your account to view a complaint.
Update your contact information
You are responsible for keeping your contact information up-to-date with Employment Standards while going through the complaint process. If you cannot be reached using the contact details you provided, the complaint file may be closed.
Log in to your account to update your contact information.
Cancel your complaint
If you resolve your issue with your employer, you can cancel your complaint.
Log in to your account to cancel your complaint.
Employment Standards Code
Part 3, section 82 of the Employment Standards Code outlines the process of making a complaint.
Disclaimer: In the event of any discrepancy between this information and Alberta Employment Standards legislation, the legislation is considered correct.