Interpretation Guidelines Manual British Columbia Employment Standards Act and Regulations


ESA Section 18 – If employment is terminated


Text of Legislation
Policy Interpretation
Related Information


This section explains the time limits for payment of outstanding wages when employment ends. 

Text of Legislation

18. (1) An employer must pay all wages owing to an employee within 48 hours after the employer terminates the employment.

(2) An employer must pay all wages owing to an employee within 6 days after the employee terminates the employment.

Policy Interpretation

There are time limits for payment of outstanding wages when employment ends.

Subsection (1)

When the employer terminates the employment relationship, all outstanding wages must be paid to the employee within 48 hours after the date of termination.

Subsection (2)

When an employee quits, an employer must pay all wages owing to the employee within six calendar days after the last working day or the date the employee quit, whichever is later. 

Example 1:

Amira works Monday to Friday. She gives one week’s notice on July 3 that she is quitting as of July 10. She then works out her notice period, so her last day worked is July 10. She is entitled to be paid within six days of July 10.

Example 2:

Tess works irregular hours. She works July 17. On July 21 she phones the employer and quits without notice, advising she won’t be in to work her scheduled shift on July 22. She is entitled to be paid within six days of July 21, the day she gave her notice.

“Wages” pursuant to s.1 of the Act include:

  • accrued statutory holiday pay;
  • overtime wages;
  • unpaid vacation pay;
  • any money held in a time bank;
  • compensation for length of service;
  • group termination pay; and
  • money earned and due at the time of termination and afterwards (e.g., commissions, incentive pay related to hours of work production or efficiency)


Commissions must be paid as soon as the employee becomes entitled to them under their contract of employment. A commissioned salesperson who is no longer employed may still be entitled to commissions depending on the terms and conditions of their contract.

If there is no agreement in writing, or the parties disagree on when the commission should be paid, the director may review past practice with respect to the employee and other employees and co-workers

Employees covered by a collective agreement

Under the provisions of s.3, if a collective agreement contains any provision respecting s.18(1) (payment of wages when employer terminates), or s.18(2) (payment of wages when employee terminates), the corresponding sections of the Act do not apply. If a collective agreement contains no provision respecting ss.18(1) or (2) the corresponding section is deemed to be incorporated in the collective agreement as part of its terms.

Under s.3(7), where there is a collective agreement, the enforcement of matters relating to s.18, is through the grievance procedure, not through the enforcement provisions of the Act.

Related Information

Related sections of the Act or Regulation




See Employment Standards Factsheets


Paying Wages

Commission Sales