How Can I Avoid Wrongfully Terminating an Employee?

Employee are a vital resource for all employers, and a business would not be able to sustain itself without them. Most employee-employer relationships do not end in a dismissal of an employee, but these situations are bound to occur over the lifespan of a business. Keep reading to learn about termination notice and pay, what it means to dismiss an employee for just cause, and some common reasons for dismissal with cause and how to avoid wrongful dismissal lawsuits.

Termination Notice

According to the Employment Standards Code, an employer must give an employee whose employment is being terminated written termination notice of at least:

  • 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
  • Eight weeks for employment of 10 years or more

Some employees may be entitled to a greater notice period by the courts than the minimum standards legislated by the Employment Standards Code.

Termination Pay

Rather than provide termination notice, an employer may choose to provide termination pay. This pay must be least equal to the wages the employee would have earned if the they had completed regular hours of work for the termination notice period.

According to the Employment Standards Code, termination notice is not required for employees who:

  • Have been terminated for just cause
  • Have been employed for three months or less
  • Are employed for a definite term or task of less than 12 months (this 12-month limit does not apply to employees engaged in oil-well drilling)
  • Refuse reasonable alternate work
  • Refuse work made available through a seniority system
  • Are not provided with work by reason of a strike or lockout occurring at the employee’s place of employment
  • Casual employees who may elect to work or not to work for a temporary period when requested to work by the employer
  • Are employed on a seasonal basis, and on the completion of the season the employment is terminated
  • Are subject to a contract of employment that is or has become impossible for the Are employer to perform by reason of unforeseeable or unpreventable causes beyond the control of the employer
  • Are employed in the construction industry
  • Are employed in the cutting, removal, burning or other disposal of trees and brush, or either of them, for the primary purpose of clearing land

When termination is prohibited

An employer may not terminate an employee’s employment because the employee:

  • Is entitled to or has started maternity or parental leave
  • Is entitled to or has started reservist leave
  • Is facing or might face garnishment action
  • Has given or might give evidence at any inquiry or in any proceeding or prosecution under the Code
  • Has requested or demanded anything to which the employee is entitled under the Code
  • Has made or is about to make any statement or disclosure that may be required of the employee under the Code

It is important to note that the Alberta Human Rights Act, also prohibits terminating an employee’s employment for certain reasons. Employers and employees are required to comply with this legislation as well. For more information, please visit the Human Rights Commission website.

Looking for sound legal advice for your organization, business or corporation? Contact KGPC LLP today.

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