Some Questions Regarding Notice of Termination

If you are employed in the province of Ontario and the company falls under its jurisdiction, you may be covered under the Employment Standards Act, 2000. The Act sets minimum standards a company must comply with. If it does not, you have a right to file a claim with the Ministry of Labour. If you are currently employed with the company, you may be able to file a claim with a request that your name not be disclosed. The Act protects you when you are exercising your rights under it.
 
It is important that if a hearing has been scheduled, the employee must attend such a hearing to present evidence to support its position or to contest the evidence of the employer, otherwise, the officer or the referee may rely on the evidence of the employer to render a decision.   
 
If you or the employer disagrees with the investigating officer’s decision, both parties have a right to appeal to Ontario Labour Relations Board within 30 days of the officer’s decision. The Board appoints a referee to hear the appeal. It does not cost the employee to request an appeal but the employer may be required to deposit monies in trust with the Ministry of Labour if found to be owing. The referee decision is final and binding on both parties.  
 
If you have worked for the company for at least 3 months, the Act requires you must be given a written notice before your employment can be terminated. Your employment can be terminated for any reason (including no reason), except for pregnancy and parental leave and reprisals. It does not stop the employee from quitting, for any reason (including no reason).
 
The maximum notice required is 8 weeks, if you have worked for more than 8 years with the company and the minimum is 1 week, if you have worked for less than 1 year but more than 3 months.
 
If you were employed for a definite term or task, you are exempted from the requirement of notice. That is, if you know when your employment would end? In other words, if you were hired for a fixed term or a particular task, you are not entitled to notice when the term ends or the task is finished.
 
Q1.      I was hired for six months but terminated after four months. Does the exemption apply in my case?
 
A1.      No, the exemption does not apply to your situation. True, you were hired for a fixed term, but the employer did not terminate your employment after the end of the term but rather early. The Act allows the employer to terminate your employment. Since, you worked for more than three months but less than one year; you are entitled to one week notice or pay in lieu of notice.
 
Q2.      I am employed with a company for the last ten years. The employer wishes to change my status from a regular employee to “term or task” employee. Can he do that?
 
A2.      No. However, the employer can give you 8 weeks written notice with a clear statement that if you do not accept these changes, consider your employment terminated. If you do not accept these changes, your employment will end after the notice period. You may also be entitled to severance pay for 10 weeks.
 
Q3.      I worked for the company for 6 years and then the employer put me on a 4 week term contract to which I agreed. My employment was terminated after 4 weeks. Am I entitled to anything?
 
A3.      Yes, you are entitled to six weeks pay in lieu of notice. The employer cannot change your employment without giving you proper notice. You may also be entitled to severance pay of 6 weeks.  
Q4.      I was employed on a fixed term of 9 months but after that I worked on an open ended arrangement for an additional 4 months. Does the exemption apply in this case? If not, what is my entitlement?
 
A4.      The exemption does not apply to you since you continued to work after the term expired. Since, you worked for more than one year; you are entitled to 2 weeks pay in lieu of notice.
 
Q5.      I was hired on a 3 month contract but before the term expired, my contract was first extended by 2 months and then by 3 months. I was then terminated. What am I entitled to if anything?
 
A5.      Since your fixed term contract was changed repeatedly, you lost the certainty of when it will end? Therefore, the exemption does not apply in your situation. Since, you worked for 8 months; you are entitled to 1 week pay in lieu of notice.
     
This information is provided for guidance only and should not be considered as a legal advice.

This article is provided by Rajinder K. Batra, who is a retired Employment Standards Officer with the Ministry of Labour with 15 years experience in these matters.

If you have any questions regarding your employment, please contact the writer by e-mail at esaconsulting@hotmail.com

If you don’t have access to e-mail; you can fax your question at (905) 331-1805.

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