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Mass terminations

Mass terminations, often also called group terminations, are usually occasions when a lot of people within one workplace have been let go either because of business restructuring, a business closing or other reasons.

What is considered a mass or group termination?

When a certain amount of people within one company have been let go within a certain period, that is considered mass or group termination.

How many employees and within what kind of time period depends on the individual province or territory, although a few of them are quite similar in their number requirements.

For example, federally regulated employees are considered to have been terminated in a mass layoff if 50 or more employees from the same industrial establishment have been terminated, all within a four-week period.

In comparison, in Ontario, there are three possible notice periods for group/mass terminations, which are based not on the length of employment of each individual employee, but how many employees are being terminated. Those three notice periods are:

  • Eight weeks' notice if the employment of 50 to 199 employees is to be terminated;
  • 12 weeks' notice if the employment of 200 to 499 employees is to be terminated; and
  • 16 weeks' notice if the employment of 500 or more employees is to be terminated

As you can see, as with the federal regulation requirements, the minimum number of employees required for a mass dismissal starts at 50.

In Quebec, in contrast, the minimum requirements for mass terminations are 10 employees within a two-month period or at least 10 employees within a six-month period.

The number of employees within each notice period category also varies in Quebec. Notice period requirements are:

  • Eight weeks’ notice if the employment of 10 to 99 employees is to be terminated;
  • 12 weeks’ notice if the employment of 100 to 299 employees is to be terminated; and
  • 16 weeks’ notice if the employment of 300 employees and over is to be terminated.

How are mass termination requirements different from individual employee terminations?

For one, as can be seen by the above examples, notice period requirements are not based on length of employee service, as it would apply to an individual employee layoff but rather how many employees have been dismissed in the group.

Often before an employer can lay off a group of employees he or she must inform the ministry of labour of the province or territory of residence. Usually that is not required with individual employee terminations. Although the requirement that both the employee(s) and (if applicable) the union be notified as well, stays the same in both circumstances.

Exemptions from group termination notice requirements

In certain circumstances the employer doesn’t have to give the employee the prescribed notice. For instance, in Alberta, employees exempt from the notice requirements include those that work on a project that will have a foreseeable end date or those that work on an “on call” basis.

However, employee notice exemptions may vary in other provinces and territories. Please consult with the applicable legislation of your province or territory.

If you have been let go as part of a group termination and there were issues or problems with the layoff consult a lawyer.

Read more:

Termination, Layoff or Dismissal

Mass Termination Provisions in Alberta and Saskatchewan