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What is working notice?

Many people have heard of the terms fired, let go and terminated but confusion still seems to exist around “working notice”.

Working notice simply means that you have been given a notice of reasonable termination. Reasonable notice is working notice.

What is reasonable notice?

The Supreme Court of Canada discussed what constitutes reasonable notice in the case Bardal v. Globe and Mail. Such factors include:

  • The nature of the employment;
    • What position did the employee hold?
    • What place did the employee occupy in the company hierarchy?
    • How many employees did the employee supervise (if applicable)?
    • How much money did the employer pay the employee?
  • The length of service of the employee;
  • The age of the employee; and
  • The availability of similar employment having regard to the experience, training; and
  • Qualifications of the employee.

The factors that have to be taken into considerations don’t end above; there can be more factors that go into reasonable notice, such as:

  • What their specialization is, and the level of specialization they have attained;
  • What the employee expected of his or her employment;
  • Whether the employee is going to have a tough time or easy time finding employment – here the courts will likely look at the current state of the economy; and
  • Enticement by an employer and reliance by an employee – that means what the employer has promised the employee, what assurances were given.

Again, reasonable notice is not limited to all of the above. The court may also consider other factors which may be important for a specific case or situation.

Is working notice the same as pay in lieu of notice?

They are not the same. Pay in lieu of notice means you will be let go and will receive payments from the employer even though you will not have to work during the period for which you receive pay.

Working notice means that you are given notice that your employment will be terminated but you are still expected to work till the end of your employment for which you are paid.

Is working notice appropriate for all terminations?

Not necessarily. Though employers prefer working notice because they retain productivity of the employee until the end, especially since most employees cannot really refuse working notice, there are situations in which working notice may not be a good idea for the employer.

For example, in situations where the employer suspects an employee may hold a grudge against the employer and may not perform his or her duties to their full capability then the employer may want to give an employee pay in lieu of notice.

Also, where employees may be high level and have access to a lot of confidential information, employers may want to issue payment in lieu of notice.

In general, a working notice is unpleasant and often difficult both for the worker who is being let go and the employer who had to let the employee go.

While employees who act badly and/or illegally at the end of their employment may face repercussions, companies likely won’t want to run the risk of having to face such results.

If you are an employee, or employer, and have issues with working issue you’ve received or issued you should consult a lawyer.

Read more:

Giving Working Notice - Employer Requirements

Working Notice: Rarely the Perfect Solution