Losing a Job
Firings and Layoffs Ray just found out he's being laid off from his factory job. "I'm sorry," his boss said. "There's just not enough work." Ray's been with the factory for 3 years. His boss says he's not owed any money after today because the layoff takes effect immediately.
Last week, Bhavna told her boss she couldn't work any more hours. She'd already put in more than the maximum hours the law allowed. Her boss fired her for refusing the extra work.
It's against the law for an employer to dismiss Ray and Bhavna like this. The law says workers must get some notice of dismissal. The law also says certain reasons can't be used to fire a worker.
If your boss doesn't give you proper notice, you have the right to pay instead. How much notice you get depends on how long you've worked at the same place. Usually, you're entitled to some notice if you've worked for your employer for 3 months or more. In some places, it's 6 months or more. There are also other rules for notice if it's a group lay-off.
There are always exceptions. These vary depending on where you live and which law covers you. Generally, you don't have a right to notice if:
- You were hired for a definite term or task.
- You're temporarily laid off.
- You've refused another reasonable job offer from your boss.
- It was impossible to carry out a contract because of circumstances beyond control.
- You were fired for just cause.
To find out more, click on the provincial/territorial or federal tab that applies to you. If you're not sure whether your job falls under provincial, territorial or federal law, check Which law covers you.
Illegal firings Your boss has no right to fire you for using your legal rights, like refusing to work more hours than allowed under the law. It's also illegal to fire someone because she's pregnant. And you can't fire a worker because of his or her race or because you're discriminating in other ways that are illegal under human rights laws. Generally, you also can't fire someone for union activities, for filing a complaint under employment law, or for garnishment of wages.
Lots of laid off or fired workers have trouble collecting the wages they're owed. You might need to file a complaint with employment standards to get your money.
You can also fight what's known in law as an unjust dismissal, although this can be difficult to do. Find out more about how to fight unjust firings and getting the money you're owed.
If you belong to a union, your collective agreement likely gives you better protection than the minimums in law. You get union representation when you've been wronged. And you have a grievance procedure. This means you can fight an unjust firing, improper notice or your employer's failure to pay you. As well, 61 per cent of unionized workers have severance pay clauses in their contracts. Severance is paid out when you're let go and is over and above any back wages or vacation payouts you get. Usually, the amount of severance you get depends on your years of service. Non-union members are entitled to severance pay only in Ontario and the federal jurisdiction.