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The question

I worked for a doctor for three weeks and was asked to do things on a daily basis that were not part of my job title. I quit without notice because I was not comfortable. My employer held my paycheque for more than two weeks and would not communicate with me. I filed a complaint under the Alberta Employment Standards Code and sent the doctor a request for payment. Within hours he told me that my cheque was ready, but I would have to sign a letter of release and indemnity agreement. Is it really necessary for me to sign those?

The first answer

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Eileen Dooley

Vice-president, Gilker McRae, Calgary

You can quit a job and are entitled to be paid for the time worked. This assumes you do not owe the employer any money for time you did not work, say for vacation, time away, etc. If you worked for three weeks, you are entitled to three weeks pay and the employer cannot withhold your cheque.

You are not required to sign a release or indemnity agreement. You would need to do this only if you were being offered money in addition to the notice period (a severance). Make a complaint to your employment standards office and let them take it from there.

The second answer

Zuleika Sgro

Senior manager of talent services, Questrade, Toronto

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Any time you feel you are being treated inappropriately at work, I strongly encourage you to speak to your boss about your concerns in a professional and organized manner.

If you need help formulating your approach and there is a human resources member at your workplace, reach out for support. HR can also help mediate the situation, investigate (especially in cases of discrimination or harassment) and implement a remedy instead of you feeling the need to resign to solve the problem.

Regarding your final pay, in short you aren't required to sign a release to receive compensation for time worked. I would encourage you, however, to clarify if your past employer is providing you anything extra.

If this is the case and you are not comfortable signing, you can request to remove that amount and take your pay for time worked.

If you have also filed an Employment Standards claim, they should be able to support you receiving the final payments owed to you by law.

Got a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that mine field? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com

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