Generally, employers have the right to terminate employees, and employees have the right to quit. These rights come with some responsibilities, primarily to provide adequate notice. The length of such notice is normally dependent on the duration of the employment with the employer.
In theory your boss has no right to fire you for using your legal rights, because you're pregnant or because of your race or other forms of discrimination. Generally, you can't be fired for union activities or for filing a complaint under labour standards. Unfortunately, employers all too often fire workers without just cause or in violation of their rights and there is often little a worker in Alberta can do about it.
All employees who have been employed continuously for more than three months are entitled to termination notice or pay if notice is not given. The amount of notice you are entitled to depends on how long you've been working.
The minimum notice that employers must give is:
- 1 week for employment of more than 3 months, but less than 2 years
- 2 weeks for employment of 2 years, but less than 4 years,
- 4 weeks for employment of 4 years, but less than 6 years,
- 5 weeks for employment of 6 years, but less than 8 years,
- 6 weeks for employment of 8 years, but less than 10 years, and
- 8 weeks for employment of 10 years or more.
An employer can give pay for the required notice period instead of providing notice or give a combination of written notice and pay. The employer must pay all wages, overtime, general holiday pay and vacation pay within three days following termination.
Employees who wish to quit are also required to give written notice:
- 1 week for employment of more than three months, but less than two years
- 2 weeks for employment of 2 years or more.
If you give proper notice, the employer must pay all earnings to you within three days following termination of employment. If you quit without proper notice all earnings are due to you within 10 days after the date on which the notice would have expired if it had been given.
There are a number of circumstances notice of termination is not required, mostly in circumstances where termination is for "just cause," such as:
- willful misconduct,
- disobedience, or
- deliberate neglect of duty
Employers can also terminate employment without notice when:
- the employee was hired for a definite term or task of less than 12 months,
- the employee was laid off after refusing an offer by the employer of reasonable alternative work,
- the employee refuses work made available through a seniority system,
- the employee is not provided with work because a strike or lockout is taking place at the employee's place of employment,
- the employee is employed under an agreement by which the employee may elect either to work or not to work for a temporary period when requested by the employer,
- the contract of employment is or has become impossible for the employer to perform by reason of unforeseeable or unpreventable causes beyond the control of the employer,
- the employee was hired on a seasonal basis and at the end of the season the employment is terminated,
- the employee is on temporary layoff and does not return to work within seven days after being requested to do so in writing by the employer,
- the employee is in the construction industry,
- the employee is employed in the cutting, removal, burning or other disposal of trees and/or brush for the primary purpose of clearing land.
When an employee's employment is terminated for just cause, the employer must be able to support the position that they had just cause and must pay all earnings due to you within ten days following the date of termination.
As an employee, you are not required to give termination notice if:
- your health or safety is at risk by continuing to work
- continuing to work becomes impossible due to unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances beyond your control
- you are temporarily laid off
- no work is provided to the employee because there is a strike or lockout at your place of employment
- you are employed under an agreement by which the you may elect either to work or not to work for a temporary period when requested by the employer
- the employer reduces your wage rate, overtime rate, vacation pay, general holiday pay or termination pay.
Your boss doesn't have to give notice or pay compensation if you're laid off temporarily. For a layoff to be temporary, you must be called back to work within 59 days. On the 60th day, your boss must give you termination pay according to your length of service. But there are some exceptions:
- If, after your layoff began, you and your boss agreed that you would get wages or an amount instead of wages. In this case, you're eligible for termination pay only when the agreement ends.
- If your boss is making payments towards your pension or insurance plan, or a similar benefit. After your job ends, you're eligible for termination pay when the payments stop.
- If you're unionized, and your contract has recall rights. Your job ends and you get termination pay when the recall rights expire.
Your employer has to ask you to return to work in writing. If you don't go back within 7 days, your boss can let you go without further notice or termination pay.
If you are let go while on temporary lay-off, you're still entitled to termination pay.
Temporary layoff rules do not apply to school workers and school bus drivers when the summer break exceeds 59 days.