Employment Standards for Termination


The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide only general information on legal issues within the province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation. The purpose is to make you aware of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.

This topic will discuss the termination of employment under the Alberta Employment Standards Code and its Regulations.  Most employers and employees in Alberta have their employment relationship regulated by statutory regulation.  The exception is where the employment relationship is regulated by contract or by unions who negotiated a Collective Bargaining Contract.  The terms of the contract regulate that employment relationship.

Employers have the right to terminate their employees.  The employers must provide the proper notice periods if they wish to terminate your employment and pay you within a certain time period.  In some situations, employers may not have the right to terminate your employment.  For example, if you are on maternity leave or have your wages garnisheed, the employer cannot terminate your employment for these reasons.

The type of employment determines whether or not termination notices must be given.  No notice is required by the employer where the employment is offered on a seasonal basis and the season ends.  No notice is required if you work in the construction trade or to clear land by cutting trees.  Also, if your employment is terminated for just cause, no notice is required by the employer.  Just cause is when you are terminated for wilful misconduct, disobedience and deliberate neglect of duty.  The employer must be able to show that there was just cause for dismissal.  If you feel that you were terminated unfairly you may want to consult with a lawyer or contact the Employment Standards at 780- 427-3731 or toll-free by dialling 310-0000 and then 780-427-3731.  If you are terminated without notice, you must be paid within 10 days of your last day of employment.

Otherwise, employers must provide written notice of their intention to the employee.  Employers may terminate their employees by giving them a proper notice period or by paying you for the notice period required.  For example, the employer may give you 2 weeks notice and you would work the 2 weeks or the employer may ask you to leave immediately and pay you for the 2 weeks required notice.  In a situation where a new business owner takes over, the employment period is considered continuous employment and the notice period requirement applies.

Employment Standards provides the following notice periods when you are terminated from your job:

  • If you are on probation for a period of 3 months, you are not entitled to any notice.
  • If you work 3 months to 2 years, you must receive at least 7 days written termination notice.
  • If you work 2 to 4 years, you must receive at least 14 days written termination notice.
  • If you work 4 to 6 years, you must receive at least 4 weeks written termination notice.
  • If you work 6 to 8 years, you must receive at least 5 weeks written termination notice.
  • If work 10 years, you must receive at least 6 weeks written termination notice.
  • If you work 10 years or more, you must receive at least 8 weeks written termination notice.

Contact Employment Standards at the same phone number if you did not receive the proper notice or pay.

Written notice is also required by your employer if you quit your job.  The written notice periods apply if you quit your job:

  • If you are on a 3-month probation period, you do not have to give written notice.
  • If you worked 3 months to 2 years, then you must give 7 days written notice that you are quitting.
  • If you worked 2 years or more, you must give 14 days written notice that you are quitting.

If you give notice, your employer must pay you within 3 days of your last day of employment.  If you do not provide the necessary notice, your employer can pay you within 10 days after the date on which the notice should have been given.  For example, if you worked for your employer for 1 year and you quit your job on January 1 without giving the proper written notice, your employer does not have to pay you until 24 days have gone by.  The 24 days includes the required 14-day notice plus the 10 days the employer is required to pay without notice.

In the situation where you are temporarily laid off you may be entitled to receive notice or not.  If you expect to return to work in a reasonable time, you would not be entitled to receive notice during the layoff.  However, your employer must recall you to work within 59 days of the layoff or on the 60th day.  You must receive written notice for the recall to work and return within 7 days after you receive the notice.  If you do not return to work the employer may terminate your employment without further notice or termination pay.  If your employer does not recall you to work, the employer must pay you termination pay according to the notice period.  Your employer may terminate you anytime during the temporary layoff but you would be entitled to termination pay as above.

For information about your specific situation, you should contact the government RITE line 310-0000 and dial 780-427-3731 for Employment Standards.