Firings and Layoffs
Do I get notice before I'm let go? Yes, but only if you've been employed continuously for three months or more. This gives you the right to written notice or to pay if notice is not given. How much notice you get depends on how long you've been working at the same place.
(Note: If you belong to a union, check your collective agreement. You'll likely have better notice and termination pay clauses than the minimums found in the law. You'll also have the right to fight an unjust firing through your grievance procedure. And you probably will also have severance pay provisions.)
Length of employment -- Notice required
Less than 3 months -- None
up to 2 years -- 1 week
2 years to 5 years -- 2 weeks
5 years to 10 years -- 4 weeks
10 years or more -- 8 weeks
Once you get notice, your boss can't change any condition of your job, including your wage rate or benefits. You can't be forced to take vacation unless you agree.
Do I get paid? If you don't get proper notice, you get paid for the number of weeks of notice you should have received.
Are there exceptions to termination notice? Yes. Your boss doesn't have to give notice if you're being fired and:
- Work expectations have been made clear to you.
- You've been warned to change your behaviour.
- You've been warned you could be fired if you don't improve.
This might happen if you were late repeatedly, for example. But the law says your employer could fire you without following the above steps if the situation were more serious; for example, if you were stealing.
Your boss also doesn't have to give notice if:
- You've worked less than 3 months.
- You're working for a set term or task of 12 months or less.
- There's a lack of work your employer couldn't foresee or control.
- Your employer made you another reasonable job offer and you said "no."
- You work in construction.
- You're laid off or suspended for six days or less.
What if I want to quit? You must give the following written notice:
- 1 week if you've worked 3 months to 1 year.
- 2 weeks if you worked more than 2 years.
If you quit without notice, your boss could go after you for the money you would normally be paid during the one- or two-week notice period. But your boss would have to show that he or she lost money or had extra costs because you quit without notice.
You don't need to give notice when:
- Your boss doesn't follow the terms and conditions of employment. For example, if your boss doesn't pay you. Or,
- If you work in construction.
Are there different rules for group layoffs? The following notice rules apply if your boss is firing or laying off more than 10 workers within four weeks:
- 8 weeks notice for 10 to 99 workers.
- 12 weeks notice for 100 to 299 workers.
- 16 weeks for 300 or more workers.
Your boss must give notice to the workers and to the Minister of Environment and Labour.
How do I get more information? You can contact:
Nova Scotia Environment and Labour,
5151 Terminal Road, P.O. Box 697,
Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 2T8.
Phone: (902) 424 5300.
Fax: (902) 424 0503.