Using Employment Agencies

If you use an employment agency, they must be licensed by Service Alberta regardless of their business location. Visit Service Alberta to confirm whether an employment agency holds an employment agency business licence.

There may be a charge for employers to use an agency for their services, but these agencies cannot charge any fees to a prospective employee to help them find a job. Please note that as an employer, you cannot deduct these costs from your employee’s paycheque. Neither the employment agency nor the employer may demand or hold a bond, deposit or passport from an employee to ensure the completion of a work term.

For more information on using employment agencies, read the Consumer Tips: Employment Agencies (PDF) and Alberta Employment Agency Business Licensing Regulation OR contact the Consumer Contact Centre at 780 -427-4088 (Edmonton) and toll-free: 1-877-427-4088 (elsewhere in Alberta).

Frequently asked questions on employment agencies

Do employment agencies have to be licensed to do business in Alberta?

Regardless of where in Alberta they do business, businesses must be licensed by Service Alberta if they:

  • help employers in Alberta find employees
  • help employees find work in Alberta
  • evaluate or test people for employers seeking employees

Under Alberta's Fair Trading Act, all businesses, including employment or recruitment agencies, must have an employment agency business licence.

Why does the province license employment agencies?

The province licenses employment agencies to prevent problems.

Sometimes, employment agencies charge foreign workers a job placement fee but fail to provide the promised jobs or fail to meet contractual requirements. Alberta introduced legislation that establishes regulatory guidelines to prevent or reduce the potential for misrepresentation, fraud or exploitation of workers.

What are the rules for licensing employment agencies based in other provinces that are recruiting workers for Alberta companies?

If the employment agency is acting on behalf of employers hiring for positions in Alberta, the agency must be licensed under the Alberta Employment Agency Business Licensing Regulation, which follows the regulations of Alberta's Fair Trading Act.

How, if at all, do those rules vary if the company is recruiting Temporary Foreign Workers overseas for an Alberta company?

The regulations apply to any employment agency securing employees for positions in Alberta. It must be licensed under the Alberta Employment Agency Business Licensing Regulation.

What fees can employment agencies charge workers?

An employment agency cannot demand or charge a fee, reward or other compensation to a person seeking employment. Nor can they charge for securing employment or information about any employer. To do so is an offence and illegal under the Alberta Employment Agency Business Licensing Regulation.

Employment agencies may charge a fee for services provided, relating to the preparation of a resumé, but the agency cannot require a person to buy these services as a condition of the agency's job placement services. If the agency charges fees for a resumé, the fees must be clearly indicated and visible in its business premises and in the contract with its client.

What fees can employment agencies charge the companies for whom they are recruiting?

The regulation does not address the issue of fees or contractual requirements for employee agencies' business clients. The fees are compatible with the common business practices in that industry.

How, if at all, are those fee regulations different if an employment agency is recruiting Temporary Foreign Workers abroad for an Alberta company?

The regulation applies to all situations in which an employment agency is securing persons for employment in Alberta, securing employment for persons in Alberta, or evaluating or testing persons for employers where the individual or the position is in Alberta. In other words, it does not make any difference if the agency is recruiting workers abroad, the same rules apply: workers cannot be charged a placement fee.

If the agency operates in a different province, can they charge workers a placement fee? Is that allowed under the Fair Trading Act?

No. Employment agencies cannot charge job placement fees to workers, regardless where they operate in Canada.

An out-of-province agency that is not licensed in Alberta recruited a group of temporary foreign workers. Does this agency need to be licensed in Alberta, even if they do not have an office in the province?

If the company is securing employment for Albertans or securing employees for positions in Alberta, it must be licensed in Alberta and must provide an Alberta business address.

Out-of-province employment agencies must provide an Alberta address for a person (e.g., a lawyer) who can act for the business.

Can an agency be registered federally and operate in any province without being licensed?

If the company is securing employment for Albertans or securing employees for positions in Alberta, it must be licensed in Alberta and must provide an Alberta business address.

Out-of-province employment agencies must provide an Alberta address for a person (e.g., a lawyer) who can act for the business.