I was fired and was not paid within 48 hours. What now?

The law seems clear that my employer was supposed to pay me what I was owed within 48 hours. But I’ve received nothing from them.



Merritt, BC

Indeed, BC’s main employment standards law says that an employer has to pay a worker the wages and vacation pay they’re owed within 48 hours of firing them. (Note that this only applies to workers covered by employment standards law. Check out this guidance to confirm you’re covered.) If you haven’t been paid what you’re owed, there are steps you can take. 

First, try raising the issue with your employer directly. They may have simply forgotten to issue your final pay cheque. Or they may be unaware of the legal requirement to pay dismissed workers within 48 hours. Take a non-confrontational tone, and don’t assume your employer had bad intentions.

You can reach out in person, or over a phone or video call. Remind them that you haven’t received the wages you’re entitled to. Let them know you understand your right to be paid within 48 hours. You can refer them to the law on point, linked above. Here are tips for having a conversation with your employer.

If speaking to your employer doesn’t resolve the problem, consider writing a letter. Describe your concerns and explain the outcome you want. You might say something like:

Under the Employment Standards Act, I’m entitled to be paid all wages owing to me within 48 hours of being dismissed from my job. It has been more than one week since I was fired, and you haven’t paid me my outstanding wages. [Modify to fit your situation.] I’d like to discuss this issue with you as soon as possible.

Here are tips for writing a letter to your employer.

If your employer still refuses to pay you what you’re owed, you can make a formal complaint. Workers covered by BC’s main employment standards law can make a complaint to the Employment Standards Branch. Check out this guidance for the steps involved.

Trevor Thomas

Trevor Thomas

Ascent Employment Law
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Reviewed for legal accuracy in November 2023

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