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Firings & Layoffs

Ontario

Firings and Layoffs

Do I get notice before I'm let go

An employer can terminate the employment of an employee who has been employed continuously for three months or more if the employer has given the employee proper written notice or without written notice or with less notice than is required if the employer pays termination pay to the employee.

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.)

Are all workers entitled to termination notice and/or pay?

Yes, except in certain cases. You're not covered if:

  • You've been employed less than three months and you're terminated.
  • You're a construction worker.
  • You're on temporary layoff.
  • You refuse a reasonable offer of another job.
  • You're fired for willful misconduct, disobedience or willful neglect of duty that isn't trivial, and hasn't been ignored by your employer.

Note: Many additional exemptions are complex. Please contact the Employment Standards Information Centre, 1-800-531-5551, if you need more information.

How much notice am I entitled to?

Length of Employment

Notice Required

Less than 3 months

None

3 months but less than 1 year

1 week

1 year but less than 3 years 2 weeks
3 years but less than 4 years 3 weeks
4 years but less than 5 years 4 weeks
5 years but less than 6 years 5 weeks
6 years but less than 7 years 6 weeks
7 years but less than 8 years 7 weeks
8 years or more 8 weeks

Note: Special rules for notice in the case of mass terminations (50 or more employees are terminated within a four-week period) apply (see below).

Can my employer change my job after I've received termination notice?

During the notice period, an employer must:

  • not reduce the employee's wage rate or alter a term or condition of employment
  • continue to make whatever contributions would be required to maintain the employee's benefits plans
  • pay the employee the regular wages he or she is entitled to.  

Note: Regular wages are wages other than overtime pay, vacation pay, public holiday pay, premium pay, termination pay and severance pay and certain contractual entitlements.

How much is termination pay?

An employee who does not receive the written notice required under the ESA must be given termination pay in lieu of notice. Termination pay is a lump sum payment equal to the regular wages for a regular work week that an employee would otherwise have been entitled if he/she received notice. An employee earns vacation pay on his/her termination pay. Employers must also continue to make whatever contributions would be required to maintain the benefits the employee would have been entitled to had he or she continued to be employed through the required notice period.

Some employees do not work the same number of hours every week or they are paid on a basis other than time. For these employees, regular wages for a regular work week is the average amount of the regular wages earned by the employee in the 12 weeks before the date the notice was given.

When must I receive my termination pay by?

Termination pay must be paid to an employee either seven days after the employee is terminated or on the next regular pay date, whichever is later.

Do I get paid?

In most jobs, you have to be paid if you're dismissed or laid off without proper notice. You're entitled to get paid for the days the notice should have covered.

If you don't work a regular work week or are paid other than for time worked (for example, commission or piece work), then other rules apply.

You must be paid no later than seven days after your termination or your next regular pay day, whichever comes later.

Are there different rules for group layoffs?

Special rules for notice for group terminations may apply if your boss wants to lay off 50 or more workers within a 4-week period. These rules apply if:
  • The number of workers being let go is more than 10% than the number of workers who've been employed for at least 3 months. And,
  • The layoffs were caused by the permanent shut down of part of the employer's business.

Your employer must:
  • Submit a form approved by the Director of Employment Standards, before giving the workers notice. Otherwise the notice given to the workers invalid.
  • Post a copy of this form at work where it can be seen.
  • Give you individual lay-off notice.

The amount of group termination notice depends on the number of workers being let go:
  • 8 weeks' notice for 50 to 199 workers
  • 12 weeks' notice for 200 to 499 workers
  • 16 weeks' notice for 500 or more workers

If you get group termination notice and want to quit before your lay off date, you must give:
  • 1 week's written notice if you've been employed for less than 2 years
  • 2 weeks' written notice if you've been employed for 2 years or more

What is a temporary layoff?

It's when your job is not ended permanently, but is suspended, cut back or temporarily stopped.

When there's a temporary lay-off your boss doesn't have to give you:

  • Any notice
  • Any reason for the temporary lay-off
  • Any indication of a date when you'll be called back to work

How long can a temporary layoff last?

  • Not more than 13 weeks in any period of 20 weeks in a row
  • Under certain conditions, it could last more than 13 weeks in any period of 20 weeks in a row, but less than 35 weeks in any period of 52 weeks in a row. For example, this rule applies if a worker is still getting substantial payments from the employer or gets supplementary unemployment benefits
  • If you're unionized, it can be longer than described in B, where you're recalled within the time frames in your collective agreement.
  • Other acceptions can be found here.

What if the layoff lasts longer alowed?

If the layoff lasts longer than a temporary layoff, then your job is considered over and you are entitled to termination pay.

For more information, please visit the Ontario Termination of Employment Factsheet.

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