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Employment Law/Pay

From Canadian Legal FAQs

< Employment Law

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Is there a minimum wage in Alberta?

Yes. The current general minimum wage is $10.20 per hour for most employees.

The minimum wage rate for employees who serve liquor as part of their employment is $9.20 per hour. Generally speaking, the liquor server minimum wage rate will apply to waiters, waitresses,bartenders and other employees who as part of their jobs serve liquor directly to customers in bars, restaurants, clubs and other licensed premises.
For more information about this, see the "Common questions about the liquor server minimum wage" section of the Alberta Human Services - Minimum Wage Fact Sheet (External Resources)

Does the law about minimum wage apply to everyone?

No. In addition to those employees who are not covered by the Employment Standards Code, the minimum wage provisions do not apply to employees in certain occupations. Examples are real estate brokers within the Real Estate Act, students in certain work experience programs, and articling students within the Legal Profession Act.

For certain kinds of salespeople (also land agents and certain types of professionals), the minimum wage is currently $397 per week. This includes a mobile home salesperson, residential home salesperson who is employed by the person building the homes, and a car, truck, or bus salesperson. See the Minimum Wage Fact Sheet (External Resources).

What is piecework?

Piecework is work that involves a number of items to make or tasks to finish. Pieceworkers earn money based on how many items or tasks they complete.

I work in a clothing store and get paid by commission. What does that mean?

It means that part of your wages will be based on how many items you sell and the value of those items. When you ring up a sale, you will probably have to record your sale in the store's records. At the end of the pay period, you will receive a percentage of your total sales as part of your wages. Your employer will decide what the percentage will be.

I work in a restaurant. My employer told me I have to buy a uniform out of my wages and pay for it to be cleaned every week. This will bring my basic wage below minimum wage level. Can he do this?

No. Your employer cannot reduce your earnings below minimum wage by making you buy uniforms and pay for the cleaning.

I work in a hotel that provides me with a room and food. Can my employer include the value of the room and food when he figures out if he is paying me minimum wage or not?

Yes, up to a certain value. As of April 2008, the minimum wage can be reduced by $2.76 for every meal consumed and by $3.65 for lodging per day.

I am supposed to be paid weekly, but sometimes I have to wait for my wages while my boss catches up on bills. Is he allowed to make me wait?

An employer must pay you at regular intervals. For instance, he could pay you every week, every two weeks, or every month. This interval is called a pay period.

The law in Alberta also allows an employer to make late payments that can be up to ten straight days after the end of your normal pay period. Any longer than ten days and your employer has broken the contract.

My wages are paid straight into my bank account. How do I know if the right amount is going in every month?

At the end of every pay period, your employer must give you a statement about your wages even if your money is paid straight into the bank.

What information has to be on the statement of earnings?

The statement of earnings has to set out the following:

  • regular and overtime hours of work;
  • wage rate and overtime rate;
  • period of time statement covers;
  • wages paid for each pay period covered by statement;
  • deductions from wages and reasons for deductions;
  • details of any time taken off instead of overtime pay.

What deductions is my employer allowed to take from my wages?

The only deductions your employer can make are:

  • deductions that you have authorized in writing (for example, union dues);
  • deductions authorized by a binding collective agreement;
  • deductions required by law (for example, taxes, pension) or by court order (for example, maintenance payments).

Can my employer take money from my wages for shortages that occur in the cash register?

No. There can be no deductions for faulty workmanship, loss of property, or for cash shortages.

I work in a small office. Last week my boss only had enough work for me for two hours each day and that was all he paid me for. Is this legal?

No. Under the Alberta Employment Standards Regulation, you must be paid for at least three hours of work at minimum wage level even though you did less. If you have a different agreement with your boss, it can only be one that improves your rights. You cannot agree to less than the law allows.

In order to calculate the three hours, time taken to eat a meal is not included. Time worked before and after the meal can be added to make three hours.

Employees who work as school bus drivers; for a municipality in a recreation or athletic program; for a Métis settlement; or for a non-profit community service organization must be paid for at least two hours work even if they work less.

My employer has a time-card deadline. If I do not have my time card in by that exact time, my pay for the pay period is not given to me until the end of the next pay period. Since I get paid every 14 days, and since we normally get paid 6 days after the end of the pay period, this means that, if I am late for a pay period, I would not be getting my pay until 20 days after the end of the following pay period. Can my employer do this?

Your employer is required to provide your pay for a pay period no later than 10 days after the end of the pay period. Any longer than 10 days and your employer has broken your employment contract.

My employer has sometimes “not released my pay” on time. He claims this is an accident, but I think it happened too often to be accidental. I think he does this to bully me. Can he do this?

Your employer is required to provide your pay for a pay period no later than 10 days after the end of the pay period. Any longer than 10 days and your employer has broken your employment contract.

If you feel you are being bullied, you can speak to the Employment Standards Contact Centre by calling 1.877.427.3731 (dial 780.427.3731 in Edmonton and surrounding areas).

My employer has provided an electronic pay-stub, but refuses to also give me a paper copy. Can my employer do this?

By law, your employer must provide you with a “written statement” with certain required information. As long as you have received the information in some sort of written form, the legal requirement has been met. A printable electronic version would likely meet this requirement.

My boss often schedules mandatory staff meetings at lunch time or at times when one or more staff members have to come in just for the meeting. The boss refuses to pay us for these times. Can my boss do this?

No. The Employment Standards Code has mandatory requirements for rest periods. If you are working at your usual rest time, you are still entitled to the mandatory rest periods. Similarly, if you come in to work, you must be paid for at least three hours at the minimum wage to which you are entitled, even though you did less.

I have been at my job for over one year and still have not received a raise. What can I do?

The Employment Standards Code does not address the issue of raises. In other words, the law does not provide any kind of automatic entitlement.

If your employer’s policies address the issue of raises and you have been treated in a manner that is inconsistent with those policies, you will have to deal directly with your employer about this issue.

More Information

For more information, please see our External Resources

See Also

Other FAQs in this section
General The difference between employees and independent contractors Contract of Employment Employment Standards Pay Overtime
Hours of Work General Holidays & General Holiday Pay Vacations & Vacation Pay Maternity & Parental Leave Termination & Temporary Layoff Enforcement of Labour Standards

This page was last updated in September 2014.