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Working Wise - Employment Standards Complaints

Dear Working Wise,

Can the owner of the self-serve gas station where I work make me pay for customers who drive away without paying for their gas? I only make a little more than minimum wage and I don’t think this is fair.
Signed, Cashless Cashier

July 20, 2016

Dear Cashless,

Employers are not allowed to make you pay for losses due to customer theft.

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.

  • Cash shortages and loss of property cover situations like a missing float where 2 employees had access to the register, dine-and-dashes at a restaurants, and drive-aways at gas stations. If your employer has deducted any losses due to customer theft from your paycheck, then he owes you your money back.
  • 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. It includes things like accidental damage to an employer’s vehicle, broken dishes in a restaurant, typos in a magazine, or mistakes in production.

An employer can not deduct the cost of these errors and accidents, but they do have the right to terminate an employee who is costing them too much money.

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

  1. 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.
  2. You will be asked a series of 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.
  3. Once you have completed the online form, the system can generate a Request For Payment letter that you can give to the store owner.
  4. If the store owner refuses to respond to your Request For Payment letter, you can then 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. They will decide if your employer has not followed provincial standards and will inform you both of their decision.

If Employment Standards determines your employer owes you money, your employer will be ordered to pay.

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

Photo Credit: © iStockphoto/LSOphoto

Working Wise is a syndicated newspaper column prepared by the Government of Alberta to answer work-related questions from Albertans. Do you have a work-related question? You can send it to Charles Strachey (charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca), a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services.

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