Employment Standards

Payment of Wages

British Columbia

The ESA requires employers to pay wages at least semi-monthly and no later than eight days after the end of the pay period (ESA, s 17).  This does not apply to public school teachers or professors (ES Regulation, s 40).

Wages is defined to include salaries, commissions, work incentives, compensation for length of service (ESA, s 63), money by order of the tribunal, and money payable for employees’ benefit to a fund or insurer (in Parts 10 and 11 only).  Examples of amounts that are not included in wages are expenses, penalties, gratuities, or travel allowance.

Each payday, employees must be given a statement showing hours worked, wage rate, overtime wage rate, deductions, method of wage calculation, gross and net wages, and time bank amounts (ESA, s 27).  Electronic statements can be provided under certain conditions (s 27(2)).

Privacy legislation may require an employer to maintain the confidentiality of the employee’s payroll information.

When an employee quits or retires, all wages and vacation pay owed must generally be paid within six days of the last day worked.  When the employer terminates the employment, all wages and vacation pay must be paid within 48 hours of termination (ESA, s 18).  See also overtime.

Under section 87 of the ESA, unpaid wages in a determination, settlement agreement or an order are a lien against the property of the employer, effective as of the time the wages were earned. The lien is a secured debt, in favour of the persons named in the decision or order, against all the real and personal property of the employer or other person named in the decision or order.

These liens generally take priority over all other claims, including a claim of the provincial government, with the exception of a prior-registered mortgage or debenture against land (ESA, s. 87; see also Helping Hands Agency Ltd v British Columbia (Director of Employment Standards), [1995] BCJ No 2524 (BCCA)).

If the limitation date under the ESA has passed, an employee to whom wages are owed may wish to consider whether to file a claim in court or with the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal, based on breach of the employment contract.


The CLC requires employers to pay wages on the regular payday as established by the employer’s practice. Other wages or amounts to which the employee is entitled under the CLC, such as overtime pay, general holiday pay, vacation pay, severance pay or bereavement pay, are to be paid within 30 days from the time that the payments are owed.


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