Reasonable Notice of Termination: The Basics

Oct 1, 2011

Reasonable Notice of Termination

“Reasonable notice” of termination is an employee right in Ontario. If an employee is terminated without just cause and the employee has not agreed to accept a specific amount of notice of termination then she is generally entitled to receive “reasonable notice” of termination. Failure to provide reasonable notice results in a wrongful dismissal

The Difference between Reasonable Notice of Termination and the Minimum Notice that is required under statue law

The amount of reasonable notice of termination that an employer is required to provide at common law is almost always longer than the minimum notice of termination an employer is required to provide under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA). The longest minimum notice period under the ESA is generally 8 weeks whereas the longest reasonable notice period is generally 24 months (or 104 weeks).

Factors to Consider when determining Reasonable Notice

The determine the amount of reasonable notice in each particular case, courts usually consider,

  1. the employee’s age,
  2. the employee’s length of service,
  3. the employees duties and responsibilities; and
  4. the availability of similar employment, having regard to the employee’s experience, training and qualifications.

The courts will also consider other factors when deciding on the reasonable notice period.

Ontario courts have rejected the one month per year of service rule of thumb.

Disputes over the appropriate Reasonable Notice seldom go to Trial

Although an employer is theoretically required to provide reasonable notice of termination to an employee, employers do not provide any notice of termination in the vast majority of cases. Instead, the employer provides the employee with pay instead of this working notice. Lawyers often disagree on the reasonable notice period in a particular case however the vast majority of wrongful dismissal cases do not go to trial.

Reasonable Notice for Employees with Short Service

In our experience, it is very difficult to predict the reasonable notice period for a short service employee. In a recent case, a trial judge concluded a 50 year old senior executive with 2.5 years service was entitled to 5 months notice of termination. The employee appealed the decision to the Ontario Court of Appeal who increased the notice period to 9 months. These cases are further complicated if the employer lured the employee from secure employment.

You can download answers to 20 commonly asked questions that arise in wrongful dismissal cases from our home page. For more information about wrongful dismissal, see our other blogs here.

If you have been wrongfully terminated and want to know how much notice of termination you should have received, please contact us at  [email protected] or 1-888-640-1728 (toll free) or 647-633-9894 (within the GTA).

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