The closure of the Snap Lake Mine in the Northwest Territories
late last year has focused attention upon the statutory "mass
termination" provisions that exist in the Northwest
Territories and Nunavut.
These mass termination provisions, which apply whenever an
employer is going to terminate the employment of 25 or more
employees in a four week period, were enacted to provide advance
notice to the government of these types of terminations. The
express intent of these provisions is that the government, with
advance notice, may be able to take some steps to mitigate the
effects of such a termination on a small economy such as that in
the Northwest Territories.
When Nunavut was created in 1999, these mass termination
provisions were replicated in Nunavut legislation.
In each jurisdiction, the mass termination provisions require
that prior to termination, the employer provide written notice to
the Employment Standards Officer (Labour Standards Officer in
4 weeks if more than 24 but less than 50 employees are being
8 weeks if more than 49 but less than 100 employees are being
12 weeks if more than 99 but less than 300 employees are being
16 weeks if more than 300 employees are being terminated.
The legislation in both the Northwest Territories and Nunavut is
clear that this notice must be given to the officer in advance of
the employees' termination. The legislation in both the
Northwest Territories and Nunavut also provides that this advance
notice is in addition to any statutory termination notice that must
These provisions prevent the immediate termination of an
employer's operations if the result of the termination of those
operations ends the employment of 25 or more employees. It means
that employers carrying on business in the Northwest Territories or
Nunavut have to be aware of this requirement.
These provisions may also provide some relief for an employer,
however. Although the legislation provides only that notice be
given to the Employment or Labour Standards Officer, employers may,
at the same time, choose to give this notice to employees. This
advance notice, coupled with the statutory notice required by the
legislation, may together equal an employee's entire
entitlement to notice (remember, the notice provisions in the
employment standards legislation in each jurisdiction are only
minimums; an employee may be entitled to much more than these
minimums at common law or under an employment agreement).
In difficult economic times, employers often are not aware of
these provisions and the requirements that may exist in advance of
a shutdown of operations. This is an area where advance
consultation with an experienced lawyer may save the employer both
time and anxiety going forward.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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