The wage recovery system helps employees collect unpaid wages or other amounts owed to them by their employer. The system also provides a route of appeal for those who disagree with an inspector’s decision.
For full details, see Pamphlet #11 – Wage Recovery.
Every federally regulated employee has the right to complain about unpaid wages and/or other amounts owed to them by a past or present employer.
To submit a complaint, employees should contact the Labour Program.
After an employee files a complaint, an inspector first investigates to determine whether the complaint is justified.
If the inspector concludes the complaint is unfounded, they notify the complainant of this decision in writing. When a notice of unfounded complaint has been issued, any affected party has 15 days to appeal this decision to the Minister of Labour.
If the inspector concludes the complaint is founded, the employer is asked to voluntarily pay the wages or other amounts owing.
The inspector also has the power to issue a written payment order to an employer or company director if they fail to pay outstanding wages. When wage recovery from a corporation is impossible or unlikely, directors may be held liable for unpaid wages, severance, termination pay, etc., up to a limit equivalent to six months’ wages.
An employer or a director has 15 days to appeal a payment order, but they can do so only after paying the fixed amount indicated by the order.
If there is no appeal, the payment order may be registered in federal court and the proceedings taken as a court judgment.
In some cases, a third party claim may be made against a debtor of an employer, up to the amount stated in the payment order. The debtor must pay this amount within 15 days.
If a notice of unfounded complaint or a payment order is appealed, the Minister of Labour will appoint a referee from a designated list to oversee the appeal process. The referee can summon witnesses, administer oaths, gather evidence, determine procedure, and so on. The referee’s task is to confirm, rescind or change the notice of unfounded complaint or the payment order. The referee can also award costs.
The decision of a referee is final.
Following the referee’s decision, the payment order may be registered in federal court and proceedings taken as a court judgment.