In Canada, particularly in the province of Quebec, the length of
notice of termination to which an employee is entitled is fairly
generous. In Quebec, the right to notice is mainly governed by two
pieces of legislation, namely the Civil Code of Quebec (CcQ) and
the Act respecting labour standards (LSA). While the provisions of
the CcQ apply to all parties bound by a contract of employment, the
LSA provides labour standards for specific categories of
Notice of termination under the LSA
Under the LSA, an employer must give written notice to an
employee before terminating his contract of employment or laying
him off for six months or more. This right cannot be exercised
namely by senior managerial personnel, nor by employees with less
than three months of uninterrupted service, whose contract for a
fixed term expires or who committed a serious fault.
The statutory length of notice is calculated only in accordance
with the duration of the uninterrupted service of the employee. For
example, an employee with one to five years of service is entitled
to two weeks' notice and an employee with ten years of service
or more is entitled to eight weeks' notice. An employer who
fails to give notice or gives insufficient notice must pay the
employee a compensatory indemnity equal to his regular wage,
excluding overtime, for a period equal to the period (or remaining
period) of notice to which he is entitled .
Notice of termination under the CcQ
Under the CcQ, either party to a contract for an indeterminate
term has the right to terminate the contract by giving notice of
termination to the other party. For the employee, the main purpose
of this notice is to allow for a reasonable period of time to find
alternate employment, without suffering loss of revenue in the
This notice shall be given in reasonable time, taking into
consideration the nature of the employment, the circumstances in
which it is carried on and the duration of the period of work.
According to case law, several other factors specific to the
employee may also be considered, namely age, level of
responsibility, salary and relocation opportunities. The employer
has the option to require the employee to work throughout the
notice period, to provide the employee with an indemnity in lieu of
notice, or to combine both options.
Depending on the facts of the case at bar, notice of termination
in Quebec varies from one to twenty-four months, including the
statutory minimum of the LSA. The length of notice of termination
generally remains consistent over time, but we have recently seen
more generous notices being awarded by courts. With the ageing
population and the limited possibilities of reemployment, it will
be interesting to see if courts will continue to award notices
closer to twenty-four months, at the higher end of the
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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