Initiating Complaints

The Employment Standards Branch no longer employs a self-help model for the initiation of complaints under the Employment Standards Act. Effective May 30, 2019, the “Self-Help Kit” has been eliminated.


The right to file a complaint is not limited to employees. Section 74 of the ESA allows an employee, former employee or other person to make a complaint to the Director of Employment Standards that the act or its regulations have been contravened.

A complaint relating to an employee whose employment has terminated must be delivered to the Branch within six months after the last day of employment. With few exceptions, an employee may file a complaint at any time during the employment with the employer alleged to have breached a provision of the Act. The employee can recover a maximum of 12 months’ wages, except in certain circumstances where the Director can increase this to 24 months.

An employee must file a complaint, in writing, with the Branch. The complaint must be delivered to an office of the Branch. After a complaint is filed, the parties are contacted and the Branch may propose investigation, mediation or a complaint hearing. If resolution is not reached through these means, the Director of Employment Standards will issue a written decision.

The Employment Standards Branch has the discretion to refuse to accept a complaint or take any action in respect of a complaint in certain circumstances. To determine whether these circumstances apply to you, visit Employment Standards Act – Investigations for more information.

For more general information about the complaint process under the Act, visit Employment Standards Branch – Filing a Complaint.

Information provided by Ryan Anderson, an employment lawyer with Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP. The information provided in this article is necessarily of a general nature and must not be regarded as legal advice. For more information about Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP, please visit