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Termination of Employment and Reasonable Notice

Kanata CA personal injury, family, and real estate law firm

Question: I’ve worked as a bookkeeper for 9 years. I started as a part-time employee but for the last couple of years I’ve worked almost 40 hours a week. My employer is retiring and selling the business. I’ve heard through the grapevine that the buyer is a competing business and likely won’t require my services so I probably will lose my job, but my boss hasn’t told me anything. Is this legal?

Generally, unless you’re unionized, your employment can be terminated at any time by your employer. If a business is sold and certain employees are not offered positions with the new company, they have effectively been laid off. Although an employer is allowed to end your employment you also likely have a right to compensation.

The majority of employees who are let go are entitled to some salary continuance under the Employment Standards Act. Depending on the wording of your contract or if you were working under a verbal contract, you may also be entitled to additional compensation for “reasonable notice of termination”.

Reasonable notice of termination is essentially the amount of notice (in weeks or in months) that an employee should have received to warn them that they are going to lose their job. If an employee is not given any formal notice of termination they can often make a claim for compensation after they have been dismissed. In some situations, where an employee and an employer can’t agree on the amount of compensation to be provided the dispute has to be resolved in Court. However, the vast majority of these cases are settled out of Court, sometimes with the assistance of a lawyer. Finally, if you’ve been a full-time employee for the last year the compensation you receive should be based on your full-time salary or hours. You may also be entitled to Employment Insurance and should contact Service Canada if you choose to apply.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This publication is the 44th installment of our firm’s Legal Matters series, which answers a reader’s question every week. If you have a general legal question that you would like to have addressed please send it via email to legalmatters@compellingcounsel.com

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