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Federal employee rights when fired

Federal employees are unlike most employees in Canada in that they are regulated by federal statute, whereas most employees fall under provincial and territorial law.

As such, federal employees fall under the Canada Labour Code. The code applies when a federally regulated employer wants to lay off an individual or when a group termination includes 50 or more people from a single business who are dismissed within a close time period.

There are about 12,000 federally regulated enterprises and over 800,000 federally regulated employees. Those who work for banks, federal crown corporations, air transportation, railway and road transportation, etc., are considered federally employed employees.

There are three major rights federal employees have when they are being terminated:

  • The right to severance pay;
  • The right to be given proper notice of termination; and
  • The right to receive money that they are owed by the employer.

Severance pay

Federal employees are entitled to severance pay if they have completed at least 12 uninterrupted months of employment. They are entitled to two days' regular wages for each full year that they worked for the employer before their termination of employment. The minimum benefit is five days' wages.


If the employer wants to terminate an employee, then under the Labour Code he or she has to follow these steps:

  • Provide the employee with at least two weeks' written notice; or
  • In lieu of such notice, pay the employee two weeks' regular wages.

However, an employee is not entitled to notice or pay instead of notice in these situations:

  • If the employee decides to leave the employment;
  • If the employee has not completed three consecutive months of continuous employment;
  • If the employee is dismissed for just cause;
  • If the employee is on a lay-off that does not constitute a termination of employment.

In the reverse situation, in which the employee is leaving an orginzation, they do not have to give notice to the employer.

Group termination

In cases where there are a lot of layoffs, also called group terminations, the employer has to notify the ministry of labour a minimum of 16 weeks before terminations begin, as well as give each person being terminated individual notice or pay in lieu of notice. This is in addition to employees’ rights to be given the group termination notice.

Right to receive money owed

The Canada Labour Code states that an employee who has been terminated has to be paid all wages owing to him or her within 30 days, which includes:

  • Four per cent or, if the employee has completed six consecutive years of employment by one employer, six per cent of the wages of the employee during any part of the completed portion of their year of employment in respect of which vacation pay has not been paid to the employee; and
  • Any vacation pay then owing by the employer to the employee under this Division in respect of any prior completed year of employment.

If you have been dismissed and you are not sure about your rights or if you believe you’ve been dismissed unjustly consult a lawyer.

Read more:

Termination, Layoff or Dismissal