In Canada, employment law is governed by provincial/territorial statute, usually through the employment standards act of the respective province or territory of your residence.
Most, if not all, employment standards acts require the employer to give notice to most employees if the employee is being terminated “without cause.”
What are the notice requirements?
Each province and territory has their own notice requirements. For example, in Alberta in 2016, notice requirements under the employment standards act are the following:
- One week for employment of more than 3 months, but less than 2 years;
- Two weeks for employment of 2 years or more, but less than 4 years;
- Four weeks for employment of 4 years or more, but less than 6 years;
- Five weeks for employment of 6 years or more, but less than 8 years;
- Six weeks for employment of 8 years or more, but less than 10 years; and
- Eight weeks for employment of 10 years or more.
To contrast this with notice requirements in the Northwest Territories in 2016, this is the notice employers have to give:
- Employment under 90 days, no notice required
- Two weeks for employment of over 90 days, but less than 3 years;
- Three weeks for employment of 3 years or more, but less than 4 years;
- Four weeks for employment of 4 years or more, but less than 5 years;
- Five weeks for employment of 5 years or more, but less than 6 years;
- Six weeks for employment of 6 years or more, but less than 7 years;
- Seven weeks for employment of 7 years or more, but less than 8 years; and
- Eight weeks for employment of 8 years or more.
Note that the notice period requirements differ somewhat between Alberta and the Northwest Territories though they are similar.
Please note that these differences also apply to the other provinces and territories. Notice periods are different for different provinces and territories and you have to consult the appropriate legislation for your province or territory to find out what the notice periods are for you.
There are also some employees who may not be entitled to termination pay depending on what the legislation of the respective province or territory says. For example, an employee who is guilty of wilful misconduct is often not entitled to notice.
Pay in lieu of notice
Employers who want employees to leave immediately can do so, but they must give the employee pay in lieu of notice. For instance, if a long-time employee is entitled to eight weeks’ notice of termination of employment, but he or she is asked to leave immediately then he or she has to be paid eight weeks of wages.
This is only applicable to Ontario and federally regulated employees, but larger employees in Ontario and who are federally regulated are expected to provide terminated employees with cash payments called severance pay.
In the case of Ontario, the employee is entitled to up to 26 weeks of severance pay, but only if these two conditions are fulfilled:
- The employer has an annual payroll of at least $2.5 million; and
- The employee has at least 5 years of service with the company.
If you have been terminated and there is an issue with the termination notice and/or pay you have been provided consult a lawyer.
Termination, Layoff or Dismissal Government of Canada
Termination of Employment and Temporary Layoff Alberta