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Writing a Letter to Your Employer - What you should know

What you should know

You have options to bring an issue forward

If you have an issue at work, you have options as to how to bring it forward. In addition to writing a letter, these include having a conversation, making a formal complaint, or bringing legal action. The option you choose will depend on the nature of the issue, the kind of job you have, and how successful you think a particular step might be. You don’t have to go through these options in any particular order. You can start with whatever step best fits your situation. 

Be clear on your rights

Before you write a letter, take steps to find out what legal rights you have and what you can reasonably expect your employer to agree to. See our guidance on your rights at work, getting paid, time off work, and getting fired or leaving a job.  

Be sure to check what you’ll need to do. For example, if you want to request a parental leave, you need to make the request in writing at least four weeks before you expect to go on leave.

If you have a policy at work that sets out a process to follow to deal with a certain issue, you should follow that process.

How an employer can react if you raise an issue or make a request

An employer can’t fire you for just cause for raising a workplace issue, making a request, or bringing a complaint. But unfortunately, some bosses are short-tempered and don’t react well to being confronted.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for that raise or address a simmering concern. But it does mean you should be strategic and respectful about how you ask, and when.

There are several laws that protect you if your employer fires you for raising a complaint. If you get fired for bringing a discrimination complaint, you may have grounds to make a human rights claim. If you get fired for a workplace safety or harassment complaint, you can make a “prohibited action complaint” to WorkSafeBC. Being fired for bringing a complaint might also justify extra damages if you sue in court.

However, be aware that unless there are certain factors in play (human rights issues, for example), your employer can fire you at any time as long as they give you enough advance notice or severance pay. (The amount of notice or severance depends on what’s written in your employment contract — or the minimum you’re entitled to by law.)