Four Ways Employers Are Bound By Canadian Employment Law


If you have been terminated from your job and you’re not sure about your legal options, you should consult an employment lawyer immediately.

1. Your Employer Can’t Fire You Without Cause, Fair Notice Or Severance Pay

Employee termination is one specific area of employment where Canada differs greatly from other North American countries. In many nations, it is the default norm for employers to maintain staff members on an “at-will” basis. This means that employers can fire any employee at any time for any reason whatsoever. In Canada, at-will employment does not really exist as such.

Under Canadian law, your employer is expected to give you reasonable notice before your termination. If this isn’t possible, your employer must provide you with compensation in the form of a severance package. Of course, your employer can terminate you immediately with adequate cause. Unfortunately, far too many employers try to skirt the law by lying about employee behavior. If you’ve been subjected to unfair dismissal, you should certainly consult with a lawyer. Because employment law in Canada can be complicated, it often takes an experienced legal professional to fully understand your options for seeking redress. Find more information at Whitten & Lublin and learn from the available resources.

2. Employers Can’t Completely Change Your Job And Hope You Resign

In countries with less advanced worker protections, it is not uncommon for employers to completely change the conditions of their employees’ positions. Sometimes, this is actually a passive-aggressive move that the employer uses to dishonestly skirt employment law. In a case like this, the employer deliberately makes the job unattractive or unsustainable until the employee is forced to quit. For example, the employer might issue a pay cut, limit working hours or insist on employee relocation.

Whatever their motives, demands like these can put employees in very difficult positions. Canadian law states that this type of tactic is tantamount to a dismissal. The technical legal term for this is “constructive dismissal.” Lawmakers in this nation were wise to put this protection in place. In certain other developed nations, unreasonable employer demands cause quite a few workplace issues. To a degree, Canada has insulated itself by issuing specific rules about constructive dismissal. Like other types of dismissal without cause, the constructive dismissal must always come with reasonable notice or compensation for the affected employee.

Generally, just cause for termination must involve deliberate misconduct on the part of the terminated employee. If the worker simply isn’t up to the demands of the job, the employer will typically still have to issue severance pay upon termination.

3. With Very Few Exceptions, Employers Must Pay Overtime

In some nations, employers and their employees have great flexibility about pay. Employees in these regions routinely sign contracts limiting their ability to demand overtime pay. It is naivety to assume that these negotiations always happen in good faith. Canadian law handles overtime rules with a more progressive view of employment rights. In Canada, it is broadly understood that employers have an unfair advantage in contractual negotiations. Employees are under enormous pressure to sign restrictive employment contracts that limit overtime compensation. To rectify this imbalance, Canadian law rigidly defines which employees can work unusually long hours without qualifying for overtime. This category includes supervisors, managers, engineers and accountants.

4. Employers Must Go To Great Lengths To Meet The Needs Of Disabled Employees

One of the ways that Canadian employment law shines is in its protections for people with disabilities. Canada insists that employers must go to all reasonable lengths to accommodate the needs of disabled workers. Far too recently, individuals with disabilities were often subject to wrongful termination. Fortunately, Canadian lawmakers continue to amplify and strengthen work rights for disabled people.