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General Guidelines by Province

To the right you will find general guidelines on key points regarding termination of employment, with links to some of the legislation. If you can't find the information you need or are wondering what your next step should be, we encourage you to visit our Get Help page.

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Termination of Employment

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Employees in all Canadian jurisdictions must receive written notice if their employment is being terminated. An employer who fails to do so must pay the employee all of his regular wages for the notice period. This is commonly referred to as “pay in lieu of notice.”

The length of the required notice period when your employment is terminated depends primarily on how long you have worked for the employer. In most jurisdictions, you must be employed longer than a set minimum amount of time before you are entitled to receive written notice of termination.

An employer may not have to provide notice if the termination was for “just cause” or if the employee was hired for a definite term or task. Certain occupations and groups of employees can be exempt as well.

Determining your rights to termination notice and/or pay can be a difficult task. It requires careful reading of the appropriate section(s) of legislation and corresponding regulations. In addition there are numerous exceptions and exemptions that may need to be considered.

Alberta

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The Employment Standards Code requires your employer to provide you with written notice or pay in lieu of notice if your employment is to be terminated.

• In Alberta you must be given one week's notice if you have been employed for more than three months but fewer than two years; two weeks for between two and four years; four weeks for between four and six years; five weeks for between six and eight years; six weeks for between eight and 10 years; and eight weeks' notice if you have been employed for 10 or more years.

• Your employer cannot dismiss you if you are on maternity leave or entitled to start parental leave.

British Columbia

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The Employment Standards Act permits your employer to give you a combination of written notice and pay equal to your total entitlement when your employment is terminated.

• You are entitled to one week's notice if you have been employed for at least three months; two weeks' notice if you have been employed for 12 consecutive months; three weeks' notice after three consecutive years of employment; and one week's notice for each additional year of employment to a maximum of eight weeks.

• The termination of 50 or more workers within a two-month period is subject to special rules and requires the employer to notify the B.C. Minister of Labour.

Federal

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In cases where an employer has valid business reasons to terminate your employment, you are entitled to receive two weeks' written notice or pay in lieu of notice.

• You also may be eligible to receive severance pay, which is calculated on the basis of two days' pay for each complete year of service, with a minimum of five days' pay.

• If you feel you have been unjustly dismissed, you can file a complaint under the Canada Labour Code.

• Special rules and notice are required for employers who terminate 50 or more employees within a four-week period.

Manitoba

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An employer in Manitoba, who can terminate your employment at any time and for any reason, must provide you with proper written notice or pay in lieu of notice.

• You are entitled to one week's notice if you have been employed for less than a year; two weeks for between one and three years; four weeks for between three and five years; six weeks for between five and 10 years; and eight weeks' notice if you have been employed for at least 10 years.

• There are special notice requirements if an employer terminates more than 50 employees within a four-week period.

New Brunswick

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Legislation requires that you receive the reasons in writing if your employer claims that you are being dismissed for cause. Should your employer fail to provide those reasons, the dismissal is treated as a termination without notice and you are entitled to the appropriate pay in lieu of notice.

• You are entitled under N.B. law to receive two weeks' notice if you have been employed for six months or more but less than five years; and four weeks' notice if employed for more than five years. If you do not receive proper written notice, you must be paid the wages you would have earned in that notice period.

• Special notice requirements apply if more than 10 employees are to be terminated within a four-week period and they represent at least 25 per cent of the workforce.

Newfoundland and Labrador

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The Labour Standards Act requires your employer to provide you with written notice of termination. Failure to do so means you are entitled to receive the wages you would have earned in the notice period.

• The notice period is one week if you have been employed for between three months and two years; two weeks for between two and five years; three weeks for between five and 10 years; four weeks for between 10 and 15 years; and six weeks after 15 years of service.

• You must be paid all outstanding wages within one week of termination.

• Special notice requirements apply if an employer is terminating 50 or more employees within a four-week period.

Nova Scotia

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Your employer must give you a written notice of termination. If not, you are to be paid the wages you would normally have earned in the notice period.

• Nova Scotia's Labour Standards Code sets these termination notice periods: One week if you have worked for more than three months but fewer than two years; two weeks for between two and five years worked; four weeks for between five and 10 years; and eight weeks if you have been employed more than 10 years.

• Your employer may not have to give you notice if it can be demonstrated that, based on your behaviour, there is just cause for terminating your employment.

• If you have 10 or more years of service, you cannot be fired or suspended without your employer having a substantial reason or cause. You may file a complaint with the Director of Labour Standards if you believe you have been terminated without just cause.

• Special rules apply to any employer in Nova Scotia that is terminating 10 or more employees within a four-week period.

Ontario

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The Employment Standards Act requires that your employer provide both notice of your termination and severance pay if you qualify.

• You are entitled to severance pay if you have been with your employer at least five years, the company's Ontario payroll is at least $2.5 million or 50 or more employees have been terminated within a six-month period. The amount of severance is based on one week's pay for each year worked (partial years are pro-rated) up to a maximum of 26 weeks.

• You must be given one week's notice of termination if you have been employed for between three months and one year; two weeks' notice for between one and three years. Thereafter you are entitled to one week's notice for each year of service to a maximum of eight weeks. Should your employer fail to provide you with the appropriate notice, you must be paid your wages for that period.

• Special rules apply if an employer is terminating more than 50 employees in a four-week period.

Prince Edward Island

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Your employer is not required to give you notice of termination within the first six months of employment, which is considered a probation period under P.E.I. law.

• You are entitled to two weeks' notice of termination if you have worked between six months and five years; four weeks for between five and 10 years; six weeks for between 10 and 15 years; and eight weeks' notice after 15 years.

• If you do not receive proper notice of termination, your employer must pay you the wages you would have earned in the notice period.

Quebec

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Legislation in Quebec entitles you to notice of termination of your employment or pay in lieu of that notice.

• You are entitled to one week's notice if you have been employed for more than three months but less than one year; two weeks' notice for between one and five years; four weeks for between five and 10 years; and eight weeks' notice after 10 years of employment.

• The term “collective dismissal” refers to circumstances in which an employer terminates 10 or more employees over a period of two months. Special rules and notice requirements must be followed.

Saskatchewan

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The Labour Standards Act requires your employer to give you advance notice of termination, otherwise you must be paid the wages you would have earned in the notice period.

• You are entitled to one week's notice if you have been employed between three months and one year; two weeks' notice for between one and three years of service; four weeks for between three and five years; and six weeks for between five and 10 years.

• Saskatchewan has special rules regarding notices if an employer terminates more than 10 employees within a four-week period.