American Companies “At Will Employment Policy” and Canada’s “Reasonable Notice Policy”
We see it all the time in the movies. An employer at odds with a worker shouts out ‘You’re Fired’, the employee gathers their things, leaves the building and that’s the end of it. What you don’t see is the work the HR department then has to go through determining pay in lieu of notice, severance package and a possible wrongful dismissal suit.
In the U.S. many employment relationships are considered to be ‘at will’ or, in other words, can be terminated by either party without cause or notice without the worry of retribution. In Canada no such relationship exists so hiring a Canadian employee can be much more complicated.
Canadian law states that an employer can terminate an employee without cause but they are required to provide ‘reasonable notice’ or compensation in lieu of this notice.
Minimum requirements for ‘reasonable notice’ vary from province to province and will depend on the tenure of the employee. If an employee has been with the company for less than three months the issue of termination is less complicated so often Canadian companies will refer to this as the “probationary period” and assess the employees ‘fit’ and ‘competence’ for the position before the three months end.
When terminating a Canadian employee without notice or pay in lieu, there must be evidence of ‘Just Cause’. Just cause can be used for certain serious acts such as theft or harassment or employees can be fired as a result of a series of minor incidents. For the latter dismissal, the employer must document that they followed a progressive discipline policy of increasing severity.
A solid employment agreement is essential when it comes to outlining notice and probationary periods as well as other regulations when it comes to employment standards in Canada. An essential step to take before engaging with an employee in the great white north is to consult a company in the know, preferably one well versed in Canadian employment law.
The Payroll Edge is a Canadian based Professional Employment Organization (PEO) or Employer of Record (EOR) as it’s called in Canada. We take on the responsibility of employment compliance when it comes to hiring north of the border so you can focus on expanding your business presence in Canada rather than learning a whole new set of rules and regulations.