My employer has run out of money and was unable to pay me what was due on my latest regular pay date. It has been over a week and my employer has informed me that it is not known when my overdue pay (or any future pay) will be received by me.

I have used government forms for the Ontario Ministry of Labour to inform my employer that he has violated the law by paying me late and needs to pay me the outstanding balance within 10 days or I might use the option to file a claim with the Ontario Ministry of Labour about my overdue wages, see the forms at the very bottom of the page:


Upon receiving the forms my employer has reiterated that the funds to pay my wages are not available. When I suggested that I should be officially laid off until such a time as my wages could be paid on time, my employer stated that they would not lay me off. I am unable to resign since that would disqualify me from receiving EI benefits (unlike a layoff where I could receive full EI benefits).

I am behind in my bills because my pay is late. If my employer refuses to pay my wages but refuses to lay me off so I can collect EI what should I do?

  • 20
    Your options are really work for free in hopes that you will get paid later(I suspect your odds are better in the lottery), quit, or follow the process set out by the MoL to file a claim for unpaid wages. We can not make that choice for you. Mar 25 '13 at 20:17
  • 8
    Talk to a lawyer. Even if there aren't funds you still may be able to sue and get a court ordered settlement that you can use to write off as a business loss or on your taxes if they did declare bankruptcy. Mar 26 '13 at 11:29
  • 5
    I see the question is closed and I leave it to moderator discretion, but I will state that about 1/3 of Canadians live in the Province of Ontario so this question is relevant to approximately 12,851,821 people assuming Wikipedi has the population of Ontario correct. Thanks for the comments and answer everyone.
    – Kmeixner
    Mar 26 '13 at 14:45
  • 4
    @Kmeixner moderators didnt close this, the community did, because while it affects a lot of people its more of a legal question than a work place question, none of us are qualified to give legal advice and any who are, undoubtedly wouldnt do it for free. Aside from that, any answers that this would attract would likely be highly opinionated with little solid evidence to verify its validity, aside from that it seems you have already recieved help in the form of the form that is supposed to be filled out for these situations
    – user5305
    Mar 26 '13 at 15:12
  • 8
    Voting to reopen. While the questions is specific to a (very large) province, the principles apply to many places. You will note that the accepted answer contains no legal advice, and (if you will forgive my presumption) is not "highly opinionated". Mar 26 '13 at 15:22

First, talk to a lawyer. They are the only ones who can give you definite advice on this. My guess is that if you quit because you aren't being paid it can be treated as if you were laid off, but absolutely 100% talk to a lawyer before acting on this.

Second, talk to the Employment Insurance people right away. There might be something they can do for you. For example this page lists circumstances in which you can receive EI after quitting your job. This page indicates that if "the person cannot be paid because of financial difficulties on the part of the employer" that constitutes "significant modification of terms and conditions respecting wages and salary" which in turn is reasonable cause for you to quit, which in turn means that EI might be paid to you.

Third, start looking for another job. Your company is in its death throes.

Fourth, talk to your fellow employees. You are all in the same boat, and sharing information and acting together can help a lot. You can probably split the cost of the lawyer between several of you as long as you are all OK with sharing the information. (Note: I'm not talking about forming a union, just talk to each other and share some of the costs.)

  • 4
    Which is probably why they won't lay you off... They don't want to pay out on the EI claim Mar 25 '13 at 19:15
  • 15
    +100 on talking to the EI people. In the US, if you're not paid, you can still file for unemployment benefits. Mar 25 '13 at 21:00
  • 6
    @AmyBlankenship I have laid people off and have never had to "pay out on the EI claim" as a result. It's hard to think of a good reason an employer wouldn't lay someone off on request. The ROE takes about 3 min to complete - it takes longer to argue about it and refuse to do it Mar 25 '13 at 21:43
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    In Ontario an employer would have to pay severance if they laid someone off (i.e. terminated them, not a temporary layoff) and they had been employed more than a year. I'm assuming the employer here hasn't got money to do that if they haven't got money to pay them. I'm assuming they are hanging on for some kind of Hail Mary play before they declare bankruptcy. Mar 25 '13 at 23:50
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    In fact, talk to them before consulting a lawyer. I do not know if that is good advice. The OP could be opening himself up for liability. I would talk to a lawyer before trying to organize myself. There are reasons unions are run by lawyers Mar 26 '13 at 13:28

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