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How Employee Assistance Programs Work

A previous post had discussed about the Wage Earner Protection Program that is available to assist people in case of job loss. This post is an extension of the employee assistance topic. We will look at another (non-monetary) program that aims to assist unemployed people aged 55 to 64 return to work and also, touch upon the wage recovery assistance system.

Employment Assistance for Older Workers

The Employment Assistance for Older Workers is an initiative that has been made available to aid unemployed people aged 55 to 64 return to work. To be eligible to apply, the unemployed person must be legally entitled to work in Canada and must require new skills or improvement of existing ones to return to the labor force. In some circumstances, the age limit is relaxed to accommodate people between 50 and 54 years or 65 and over. For further information regarding the application process, please contact the respective provincial or territorial project sponsor(s) using the details given in the link above.

The program is a joint endeavor of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and the provinces/territories. The services offered include counseling, skills development, assistance with writing a résumé, etc. The design and delivery of projects is handled at the provincial or territorial level and are targeted toward communities with a population less than 250,000 and experiencing high unemployment, likely due to dependence on a single industry.

Wage Recovery Assistance

As the name indicates, the Wage Recovery Assistance system is meant to aid employees collect unpaid wages (and/or other amounts) owed to them by their employer. It also offers a route of appeal for parties that do not agree with the assessment submitted by an inspector.

How does the system work?

When an employee files a complaint about unpaid wages and/or other amounts, an inspector’s first task is to determine if the complaint has any foundation. If found to be valid, then the inspector will work with the employer to make them pay the due amount(s) voluntarily. Evidently, if the complaint is unfounded, then the inspector will notify the employee in writing. As mentioned earlier, both the employer and employee can appeal their payment order or notice of unfounded complaint respectively to the Minister within 15 days. However, the employer can appeal only after paying a fixed amount as dictated by the payment order.

In the absence of an appeal, the payment order may be registered in federal court and the proceedings can be considered as court judgment. If there is an appeal by either party, then the Minister appoints a referee from a designated list to administer the appeal process. This process may involve calling witnesses, gathering evidence, administering oaths, etc. The referee may confirm, reject or modify an inspector’s payment order or notice of unfounded complaint and their decision is final.

It is also possible to make a third-party claim against an employer’s debtor, if the employer is deemed incapable of paying the amount indicated on a payment order. In such instances, the debtor is required to pay the amount to the Minister within 15 days of receiving the payment order.

Are you aware of other employee assistance programs? If you have used one or both of the programs discussed above and have any tips for fellow readers, please offer them in the comments.

About the Author: Clark works in Saskatchewan and has been working to build his (DIY) investment portfolio, structured for an early retirement. He loves reading (and using the lessons learned) about personal finance, technology and minimalism. You can read his other articles here.
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About the author: Clark works in Saskatchewan and has been working to build his (DIY) investment portfolio, structured for an early retirement. He loves reading (and using the lessons learned) about personal finance, technology and minimalism. You can read his other articles here.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Campbell May 26, 2014, 10:35 am

    Great article

    This is excellent program that works directly for the benefit of old workers
    The system is well functioning

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