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Frequently asked questions

What does ‘terminated with cause’ mean?

If you’ve been fired from your job, your entitlement to severance pay, employment insurance, and more depend on the reasons for your termination.

Terminated with cause means you’ve acted in a way that fundamentally breaches your employment contract. This can include a wide range of workplace transgressions such as theft, disobedience, and incompetence.

When weighing termination for employee mistakes, employers should consider the following factors (because a judge will, if it comes to that):

  • The severity of the mistake;
  • Your length of service and overall performance;
  • Frequency or abundance of other errors;
  • Whether it was accidental or intentional;
  • The mistake’s impact on the business, its reputation and ability to function;
  • If it created a safety risk to others;
  • Whether you take responsibility for the mistake.

What's wrongful dismissal?

Put simply, wrongful dismissal is when your employment is terminated without reasonable notice. That abrupt termination breaches the employment contract and/or applicable employment laws.

There’s no specific legal definition of “reasonable notice,” but courts consider multiple factors, including:

  • Type of job (physical labour or managerial work, for example);
  • Length of the employee’s service;
  • Employee’s age;
  • Availability of similar employment.

You can file a wrongful dismissal complaint with your provincial or territorial Ministry of Labour if you have completed 12 consecutive months of employment with that employer and you are not covered by a collective agreement.

What is a layoff?

Some employees who work for companies that do not always have enough work, or whose plant shuts down from time to time, get laid off. Employees are usually informed of a layoff with a written notice. In many cases, if you are laid off, you have not lost your job permanently, and you will usually have the right to return to your job if the company gets new work or re-opens the plant.

Generally, if you have been laid off for more than 13 weeks, your employment will be considered terminated and you will have the same rights as if you were fired. However, if you are laid off, but you continue to receive fringe benefits from your employer, you will not be considered terminated until 35 weeks after you were first laid off.

What is severance pay?

Severance pay is an additional amount of money paid to some employees who are fired or laid off without good legal reason. It compensates an employee for losses (such as loss of seniority) that occur when a long-term employee loses his or her job.

Severance pay is not the same as termination pay, which is given in place of the required notice of termination of employment.

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