LABOUR LAW: How to terminate someone legally

Posted by heritagelawoffices on Jul 1, 2018 in Blog, Employment Law

employment-contractNo matter the industry, businesses must regularly hire new employees, promote existing ones and transition as others move on– but they may also have reason to cut ties with a particular person (or sometimes even many people). In these cases, it is extremely important for the business to follow every step of the process cautiously. Failing to complete your due diligence as an employer can lead to a wide range negative results, many of which can be financially damaging. If you want to understand how to terminate an employee legally, keep reading for Heritage Law’s brief introduction into labour laws.

Employment contract

In Canada, most employers’ first step when hiring an individual is to have them sign a legal agreement that may offer privileges– as well as restrictions. Guidelines are typically included in such documents to keep both parties aware of the circumstances that lead to termination. If your business does not use employment contracts, you may vulnerable to legal liabilities and their related consequences.

Notice of termination

The Government of Canada guarantees two weeks’ written notice before an employee is terminated. Two weeks’ regular wages can be paid out in substitution, but the terminated individual can seek legal reparation if your business fails to provide either.

Cause for dismissal

If a business terminates an employee, you must have established cause in the eyes of the law. Burden of proof is on the employer and the court holds very high standards– a hunch is not enough! Before termination, employers are expected to provide written and/or verbal warnings (as well as clear expectations of improvement). You may have grounds for dismissal after following these steps, but always consult your legal advisor to be absolutely sure your business has done all it can do.


The world of labour is complex and many unique situations with legal ramifications arise every day. For example: if your business must terminate multiple employees at once, notice must be given at least 16 weeks ahead of time. Also, individuals that complete at least 12 consecutive months of employment may be entitled to severance pay– they also are protected from unjust dismissal. There are other exceptions as well, so always make sure your business’ legal liability is understood.

The above article only scratches the surface of labour law– for a more comprehensive assessment, contact or visit Heritage Law today!