Ask a Lawyer – “I was fired from my job. What are my rights?”

Determining what your rights are if you lose your job largely depends on the facts of your case. If your ex-workplace is unionized, the termination provisions will be governed by the collective labour agreement. In this case, you should talk to your union representative so that your matter could proceed through the labour grievance process.

A non-unionized worker legally does not have a right to a job – the employer is entitled to terminate a worker at will. However, unless the termination is for cause, the worker is entitled to a notice of termination, or pay in lieu of notice – that is, the amount you would have earned during the notice period. Under the Employment Standards Act, a worker who has worked between 6 months and 5 years is entitled to a notice period of 2 weeks, while someone who worked 5 years or more is entitled to 4 weeks’ worth of notice. The notice must be in writing.

However, in addition to the Employment Standards Act there also exists a concept of “reasonable notice”. That is, the worker is entitled to notice that is reasonable given factors like the worker’s age, position, type of work, and most importantly, the length of time worked. This reasonable notice is usually higher than the minimum amount provided by the Employment Standards Act. Sometimes you may get a month worth of notice for each year of work. Thus, a worker working for the same employer for 5 years may be entitled to a 5-month notice before termination, or a payment equivalent to 5-months’ salary. However, there are no clear-cut rules when it comes to reasonable notice – each case is decided on its specific facts.

For finding out what your rights are if you lose your job, or for any other legal issue, please contact us.

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