Termination, layoff or dismissal

Termination of employment

The Canada Labour Code outlines the procedures to follow when terminating the employment of individual employees or when a group termination involves 50 or more employees from a single industrial establishment who are dismissed simultaneously within a four-week period.

Notice of termination

Federally regulated employees do not have to give their employer notice if they choose to quit. However, if the employer chooses to terminate a position, they must either:

  • provide the employee with at least two weeks' written notice; or
  • in lieu of such notice, pay the employee two weeks' regular wages.

Temporary layoff

A layoff is considered a termination of employment when the employer has no intention of recalling the employee to work. In these cases, employers have responsibilities and obligations to the employees usually associated with the termination of employment, and employees benefit from such defined rights as protection from unjust dismissal.

Group termination

In such cases, employers must notify the Minister of Labour in writing of their planned group termination at least 16 weeks before the terminations begin.

Employers are also required to give notice of individual termination or pay in lieu of notice - as well as the group termination notice—to each individual employee identified as part of the group affected.

Note that the Minister of Labour may waive an employer's requirement to give notice when it can be shown that:

  • it would be prejudicial to the interests of the employee or the employer
  • it would be detrimental to the operation of the industrial establishment
  • similar measures are already in place

Employers should apply for waivers as early as possible by writing to the Minister of Labour.

Most employers planning a group termination must establish a committee of employer and employee representatives to develop an adjustment program immediately upon delivering a notice of group termination.

For technical guidance, please consult Group Termination of Employment (IPG-029).

Severance pay

An employee has the right to collect severance pay if they have completed at least 12 consecutive months of continuous employment before their layoff or dismissal resulted in a termination of employment.

They are entitled to two days' regular wages for each full year that they worked for the employer before their termination of employment. The minimum benefit is five days' wages.

For general information, please consult Terminations (Publication 10 – Labour Standards).

Unjust dismissal

Part III of the Canada Labour Code protects federally regulated employees, excluding managers, who have completed at least 12 months of continuous employment with the same employer and who are not covered by a collective agreement from unjust dismissal. Unjust dismissal may also include cases of "constructive dismissal" where the employer:

  • has not directly fired an employee, but has failed to comply with the contract of employment in some major respect
  • has unilaterally and substantially changed the terms of employment
  • has expressed an intention to do either of these

For general information, please consult Unjust Dismissal (Publication 8 – Labour Standards) and Progressive discipline (Publication – Labour Standards).

For technical guidance, please consult Constructive Dismissal (IPG-033).

Filing a complaint

If an employee believes that they have been unjustly dismissed from their employment, they can, within 90 days from the date of dismissal, file a complaint alleging unjust dismissal.

For general information, please consult - Complaint of unjust dismissal (Publication – Labour Standards), Unjust dismissal - Mediation process (Publication – Labour Standards), Unjust dismissal - A guide to the hearing process (Publication – Labour Standards) and Find out how you can file a complaint for unjust dismissal (Infographic – Labour Standards) or contact your regional Labour Program office.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: