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Working Wise: Employment Standards Complaints

Dear Working Wise,

I work for a financial planner. We assist him by purchasing and redeeming mutual funds for clients. If we make an error, it can cost him thousands of dollars. Can he legally deduct these costs from our wages if we make a mistake?
Signed, Troubled Trader

Dear Troubled,

Alberta’s Employment Standards Code prohibits employers from deducting employee pay for faulty workmanship, cash shortages or loss of property if any person other than the employee had access to the cash or property.

This covers situations like cash shortages where two employees had access to the register, dine-and-dashes at restaurants and drive-aways at gas stations.

Faulty workmanship covers a wide variety of situations related to an employee failing to adequately do their job due to an accident, unforeseen circumstances, carelessness or incompetence.

Faulty workmanship includes things like accidental damage to an employer’s vehicle, broken dishes in a restaurant or an ordering mistake for an investment. An employer can not deduct the cost of these errors and accidents.

If your employer has deducted any of these types of losses from your paycheque, then he or she owes you your money back.

There are helpful step-by-step instructions on the Employment Standards web page that will walk you through how to get your money back from your employer.

Visit the Alberta Employment Standards website and click on “File a Complaint” to get the step-by-step instructions. If you decide to ask for your money back, you will be asked to create an online account.

You will be asked a series of questions about your job. Have your records with you when you fill in the form to make it easy to get the information needed.

Once you have completed the online form, the system can generate a Request For Payment letter that you can give to your employer.

If he refuses to respond to your Request For Payment letter, you can submit a formal complaint to Alberta Employment Standards.

Employment Standards staff will contact you and your employer to get the full story and try to resolve the issue. If Employment Standards determines your employer owes you money, your employer will be ordered to pay.

Changes are coming to the Employment Standards complaint system on January 1, 2018. New measures and tools are being brought in to improve the ability of government to collect unpaid earnings. These include introducing a new penalty system for employers found to be in contravention of the Code, lengthening the time period for prosecution of employers, adding the ability to recover money from third-party bank accounts and giving Employment Standards Officers the authority to require employers to conduct self- audits in prescribed form.

If you have any further questions, call the toll-free Alberta Employment Standards Contact Centre at: +1 (877) 427-3731 ( +1 (780) 427-3731 in Edmonton).

You may also be interested to know that Certified Financial Professionals are bound to act in a manner that reflects positively on the profession. If your boss is a CFP, you can contact the Financial Planning Standards Council with your concern.

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