Termination, layoff or dismissal

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Note: for the purpose of this web page, reference to “employee(s)” includes persons that are often referred to as "interns". It excludes "student interns" who are undertaking internships to fulfill the requirements of their educational program.

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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 4 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 2 weeks' written notice
  • in lieu of such notice, pay the employee 2 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

A group termination of employment is the termination of employment of 50 or more employees working at a single industrial establishment either on the same date or within any 4 week period.

In such cases, employers must notify the Head of Compliance and Enforcement in writing of their planned group termination of employment at least 16 weeks before the employment terminations begin.

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

The employer, along with employee representatives, must establish a joint planning committee immediately upon providing a notice of group termination of employment.

An employer may request that the Minister of Labour waive an employer's requirement to give notice, cooperate with the Employment Insurance Commission, provide employees with a written statement of benefits and/or establish a joint planning committee when it can be shown that:

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

To provide notice to the Head of Compliance and Enforcement and/or to make an application to the Minister for a waiver of the group termination provisions, a form is available to assist employers.

For general information on group terminations of employment, including what information must be provided in the notice and waiver request(s), please consult the Rights on termination of employment publication.

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 2 days' regular wages for each full year that they worked for the employer before their termination of employment. The minimum benefit is 5 days' wages.

For general information, please consult the Rights on Termination of Employment publication.

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 an unjust dismissal 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 the following:

and if you file a complaint, and it goes to adjudication, please consult the following:

For additional information, you may contact a regional Labour Program office.

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