Submit 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

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.

For details on the rules for paying employees, see the Fact Sheet on Payment of Earnings. For details on termination notice requirements, see the Fact Sheet on Terminations.

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 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.

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 emails.

If talking with your employer doesn’t solve the problem, you can generate a Request for Payment Letter within the online complaint that you will send directly to your employer.

Step 5 – Create an account

The first step is to create an account.  You’ll create your own user name and password and your information will be securely saved. This account will allow you to enter and save your information over a few sessions, in case you’re not able to complete it in a single session.

Step 6 – Enter your information and generate the Request for Payment Letter

You will be led through a series of questions to make sure your complaint is for the type of problem Employment Standards can help with.  If the problem you have should be submitted to another level of government or agency, contact information for those organizations will pop up.

Once your information is complete, you’ll be instructed to generate a Request for Payment Letter and send it to your employer.  The letter will show the type of unpaid earnings and the estimated amounts owing based on the information you entered.

If you receive a response from the employer, please return to the online complaint and fill in the box indicating what that response was, including whether you received payment or not.

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.

Have your records with you when you fill in the form to make it easy to get the information needed.

Step 7 – If it’s still not right submit a complaint

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.

Open your complaint again and enter the result of your Request for Payment Letter.  Upload any electronic documents which support your claim, such as pay stubs, statement of earnings, your employment contract, overtime agreement and any other employment records you have.

Submit your complaint

Here are some important points to remember if you plan to submit a complaint:

  • If you were fired or laid off, you have up to six months to submit a complaint. An extension may be granted, but only, for example, if you can prove you were unable to submit 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 complaint is accepted for investigation, your name will be given to your employer as part of the process. 
  • If you submit a complaint you may not hear from Employment Standards for 12 weeks or more. Depending on the complexity of the complaint, it may take up to a year to be concluded. Be prepared to wait.

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

  • Complaints are submitted online.
  • Employment Standards staff will contact the person who filed the complaint as well as the employer to learn more details and try to find a solution. If the issue relates to pay and the amounts owing are unclear, the employer will be required to provide its payroll records.
  • Employment Standards will decide if the employer has not followed provincial standards and will tell both parties what the decision is.
  • If Employment Standards determines the employer owes the employee money, the employer will be ordered to pay.
  • If Employment Standards decides that the employer must make changes in the way it treats employees, the employer will be ordered to do so.
  • For full details, see How the Employment Standards Enforcement Process Works, or see the Fact Sheet on the Complaint Resolution Process.

Step 8 – Checking the status of your complaint

If you submitted your complaint before February 21, 2014, 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.

If you submitted your complaint on February 21, 2014 or later, you can check on the status as it moves through the investigation process by logging into your account.

More Information

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.

Created: 2006-03-17
Modified: 2014-07-08
PID: 1697

Contact Employment Standards

Call the Employment Standards Contact Centre for general information or submit an inquiry online:

  • 780‑427‑3731 (Edmonton area)
  • 1‑877‑427‑3731 (Toll-free)

More contact options