- Talking to an employer is the first step in trying to resolve an employment standards issue in the workplace.
- A complaint may be made because an employee believes an employer has failed to either:
- pay earnings
- provide anything you’re entitled to under the Employment Standards Code
- Complaints can be made while employed and at any time up to 6 months after the last day of employment.
- Complaints may be submitted online and there’s no fee associated with filing a complaint.
- An employer can’t terminate an employee’s employment because they make, or are about to make a complaint.
- Complaints that are submitted must be truthful.
Complaint resolution provides more information on the resolution process.
Eligibility to file a complaint
In order to file a complaint with Employment Standards an employee must:
- be, or have been, an employee
- contractors and self-employed persons are not eligible
- work in Alberta
- wait one pay period to see if the issue is resolved on the next pay statement
If the matter is urgent (job-protected leaves for example) then waiting one pay period isn’t required.
Employment Standards may not be able to investigate a complaint if the employee:
- works in a federally regulated industry
- currently has a court action relating to the complaint
- is unionized and works under a collective agreement
Bankruptcies and receiverships
Employment Standards may have limited ability to resolve a complaint if the employer is:
- under bankruptcy protection
- In this case, the employee needs to apply to the federal government’s Wage Earner Protection Program.
- Employment Standards has no jurisdiction over these cases. It’s recommended that the employee contact the trustee.
- in receivership
- The employee may need to submit an Employment Standards complaint to establish them self as a secured creditor.
- It’s recommended that the employee contact the trustee for additional information.
- The trustee may recommend that the employee applies to the federal government’s Wage Earner Protection Program.
Wage earner protection program
The federal Wage Earner Protection Program (WEPP) reimburses eligible workers for unpaid wages, vacation pay and termination pay they are owed when their employer declares bankruptcy or becomes subject to a receivership under the federal Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA). To be eligible, an employee must meet all of these criteria:
- your employment has ended;
- your former employer is declared bankrupt or is subject to a receivership; and
- you are owed eligible wages for the six month period ending on the date of the bankruptcy or receivership.
What can a complaint be about?
Complaints can be made about, but aren’t limited to, the following:
- receipt of at least the minimum standard outlined in the Code for payment of:
- receipt of a non-monetary entitlement outlined in the Code for:
- pay statements
- hours of work and rest periods
- payment of earnings within 10 days
- overtime banking
- vacation time (where paid but time off was not provided)
- variances and exemptions
- posted bulletins and reports
- entitlement to other compensation as outlined in an employment agreement
- entitlements related to unpaid, job-protected leaves
- unexpected or unauthorized deductions on a paycheque
- reinstatement or compensation after being laid-off, terminated or suspended
Before filing a complaint, employees should check if:
- they work in an industry that has special rules relating to employment standards
- their employer holds an Employment Standards permit or variance
What issues aren’t covered by Employment Standards?
- Record of Employment – contact the Government of Canada
- Workplace health and safety – contact Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)
- Workers Compensation Board (WCB) claim – contact WCB
- Human Rights – contact the Alberta Human Rights Commission
- Employment Insurance – contact the Government of Canada
- Tax deductions – contact the Canada Revenue Agency
Choosing to make a complaint or an anonymous tip
If there’s belief that an employer isn’t meeting the minimum standards of employment, a complaint or anonymous tip may be submitted to Employment Standards.
As a complainant, an employee’s name and contact information is associated with the complaint.
- a complaint is filed by an employee against an employer.
- Employment Standards will follow the complaint resolution process.
The person submitting a tip won’t have their name associated with it and won’t be informed of the status or any investigation findings.
- An anonymous tip can be filed by any person and isn’t limited to only employees.
- see Anonymous tip for more information
Information you’ll need to file a complaint
Sufficient information needs to be provided before a complaint may be investigated. Employees should ensure you have all the necessary information before filing a complaint.
- hourly wage and/or annual salary
- employer’s address
- at least 2 methods of contact
- email and phone number for example
- timesheets or records of hours worked
- Record of Employment (ROE)
- overtime banking agreement (if applicable)
- hours of work averaging agreement (if applicable)
- employment contract (if applicable)
File a complaint
An employee should talk with the employer as the first step in resolving an issue in the workplace. If the issue can’t be resolved directly with the employer, then a complaint may be submitted.
Step 1. Check if you are eligible
There are some issues Employment Standards can’t help with. Before starting the complaint process employees will have to answer some questions to see if the issue is covered by Employment Standards.
Step 2. Create an account
If an employee is eligible, an account must be created by providing personal contact information before proceeding with filing a complaint.
Step 3. Provide information
Complete the complaint by providing detailed information.
- who the employer is
- employment history information
- an estimation of any outstanding payments or entitlements that were not received
- a detailed description of the problem in writing
When filing a complaint, the employee needs to decide if they wish to provide consent to have Employment Standards act on their behalf to collect on an order if the employer fails to pay amounts that are found to be owing to you.
Step 4. Notify your employer
- The employee completes and sends a Request for Payment letter to the employer. This letter is provided once the details of the complaint have been entered.
- The employee should allow at least 10 days for the employer to respond to the request before returning to their account and proceeding to submit a complaint.
Step 5. Submit your complaint
The employee may submit their saved complaint to Employment Standards for review and investigation if:
- a response from the employer was not received
- the issue could not be resolved with a voluntary agreement
After a complaint is submitted
After a complaint has been submitted and reviewed, Employment Standards will contact the employee to discuss the concerns. See Complaint resolution for more information on the process.
Check the status of your complaint
An employee can check the status of their complaint after it has been submitted.
Log in to an account to view a complaint.
Update your complaint information
An employee can update the details of a complaint at any time before submitting it to Employment Standards. Personal contact information can be updated at any time.
Employees are responsible for keeping their contact information up-to-date with Employment Standards while going through the complaint process. If an employee cannot be contacted, the complaint file may be closed.
Log in to an account to update complaint information.
Cancel your complaint
A complaint may be cancelled at any point if a voluntary resolution has been reached with an employer.
Log in to an account to cancel a complaint.
How the law applies
Part 3, section 82 of the Employment Standards Code outlines the process of filing a complaint.
Disclaimer: In the event of any discrepancy between this information and Alberta Employment Standards legislation, the legislation is considered correct.