If you have been terminated in Ontario, you have rights and entitlements upon termination. Employers must provide a notice of termination or payment in lieu of notice. The time between receipt of notice and your effective termination date is commonly referred to as your notice period.
Your notice period will vary depending on your specific circumstances, the nature of your employment, and any written agreement between yourself and the company. As a result, it is important to have a lawyer review your termination letter and employment agreement – before you sign anything.
Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) – sets out an employee’s minimum statutory notice period. However, it is important to note that this is only the first step in determining the amount of notice that you may be owed, and there is a good chance that you may be entitled to greater compensation than what is outlined here.
Your statutory notice period is based exclusively on your years of service. The math works out to approximately 1 week of notice per year of service.
|Notice of Termination S. 57 of the ESA|
|Length of Service||Notice Required|
|Less than three months||None|
|3 months to 1 year||1 week|
|1 to 2 years||2 weeks|
|3 years||3 weeks|
|4 years||4 weeks|
|5 years||5 weeks|
|6 years||6 weeks|
|7 years||7 weeks|
|8 years||8 weeks|
During the notice period, your employer cannot alter the terms and conditions of your employment, or compensation. As a result, during the notice period you are entitled to receive any money, benefits, or bonus that you would have received if they hadn’t provided you with notice.
Reasonable Notice at Common Law
Unless your agreement contains a valid and enforceable termination provision that explicitly limits your entitlements to your statutory notice period, you are entitled to notice at common law.
There is no set formula for determining the length of your reasonable notice period. A court will examine your individual circumstances and consider factors such as your age, length of service, position and seniority, and the availability of comparable work.
The general rule of thumb is that an employee is entitled to receive at least one month per completed year of service. However, a court will not exceed an award of 24 months’ notice unless there are exceptional circumstances.
For more information, please review Common Law Notice on Employment Termination.
You may also receive working notice of termination. Where an employer provides you with working notice, they will often encourage you to look for work elsewhere during the notice period. If you resign during your working notice period to accept alternative employment you will forfeit your right to any additional notice.
Accordingly, it is important to consider any potential offers and try to coordinate your start date to maximize the amounts to which you may be owed.
Termination for Just Cause or Wilful Misconduct
Termination for cause is the exception to the rule, your employer is not obligated to provide you with any notice of termination if you have engaged in wilful misconduct, disobedience or wilful neglect of duty that is not trivial and has not been condoned by the employer. If you have been terminated for cause it is important that you immediately consult a lawyer.
If you are an employee who has recently been terminated and you have questions about your rights or entitlement to notice of termination, please contact Monkhouse Law Employment Lawyers. Monkhouse Law is an employment law firm located in Toronto with a focus on workers’ issues. Give us a call at 416-907-9249 or fill out this quick form. We offer a free 30-minute phone consultation.