Ridout Barron


Employment contract disputes a problem for many Alberta workers

One of the biggest grievances between employers and former employees relates to unpaid wages. In Alberta, the government has cracked down on such employment contract disputes. Despite these efforts, claims of unpaid continue to flow in, totalling $19 million last year alone.

The number of complaints to the province's labour ministry has been fairly consistent in recent years. In the fiscal year of 2014-2015, prior to the current government taking power, the ministry received 4,728. Last year, a similar number of 4,679 was reported. This year, nearly 4,900 complaints are expected to come in.

Some things have changed since the 2014-2015 period, including the hiring of 23 additional employment standards officers for a total of 75. Additionally, the province began sending warning letters to allegedly delinquent employers in June. Lawmakers say their goal is not to reduce the number of complaints, but rather to increase the percentage of claims which are investigated and resolved in the province. A spokesperson for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business suggested that, in light of changing labour laws, repeat violators should be targeted while first-time offenders may be educated and given the benefit of the doubt.

The Alberta labour ministry notes that although the count of nearly 5,000 complaints may seem high, there are many more individuals who may never come forward and seek compensation for their employment contract disputes. While making a complaint can seem difficult, there are many systems and professionals in Alberta who may be able to help those who have not been paid by employers. A lawyer in the province may be able to help make sure a properly worded complaint is sent through the correct channels.

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