Do You Legally Have to Give Two Weeks Notice in Canada

Are you thinking of quitting?

You may be wondering do you legally have to give two weeks’ notice in Canada? The short answer is no, if you quit, you quit…but the issue maybe a little more complicated than that. You need to consider if you have an employment contract, and what it means if you break employment contracts. You also need to know what the implications of quitting are without a proper, and amicable exit strategy.

Are you Leaving Your Job?

When you are planning to leave a job, it is important that you have all of your ducks in a row to avoid issues later down the road. Leaving your position improperly can even open up the case to possible legal action, so you will want to ensure that you look over any contract you may have signed and follow best practices.

You will not necessarily need to give a two weeks notice with your resignation, but also should not quit on the spot. There is a fine line between the two that is known as “reasonable notice”. Read on to find out more about such reasonable notice.

Do I Have to Give Two Weeks Notice?

In Canada, you do have to give notice before you leave a job position. If you do not, you set yourself up for being legally pursued for damages by your former employer. Whether or not they decide to do so will vary, but they are legally able to– so it is better to be safe, rather than sorry! The question is how much notice? Common law dictates that you must provide a reasonable amount of time between your resignation letter and your last day of work. So although it is not a legal requirement to give exactly two weeks there are some legal obligations.

Reasonable Notice of Resignation

Common law in Canada requires you to give an employer “reasonable” notice of resignation, which may depend on factors such as your role and place in the hierarchy of the company. Two weeks notice is the norm, but under common law, this is not an expressly required amount of time. Your version of a reasonable amount of time might be less than or more than Two weeks notice. The purpose of this is to allow your employer to have enough time to find a replacement to fill your role. This is required of you, whether or not there is an employment contract in place.

So, how much notice isn’t always the same and varies heavily depending on the employee’s position and situation.

Notice According to a Contract

There are some circumstances where reasonable notice and the common law requirements may be displaced. For instance, if you signed an employment contract when you were hired for this position, resignation protocol may be outlined here instead. This trumps the common law guidelines. Many employers do insert a clause requiring two weeks if an employee were to resign. Alternatively, a contract may outline the start and end dates of an individual if they were hired on as a contractor, temp, or on an as-needed basis. It is important to note that when there is no written contract, you will still need to provide some sort of notice, and this defaults back to common law requirements. The main purpose of a contract of employment is to limit the number of employees that leave immediately. 

Wrongful Resignation

Wrongful resignation refers to the failure of an individual to give reasonable notice of resignation. Basically, it is the same concept as a wrongful dismissal, which is the employer’s failure to provide reasonable notice of an employee’s termination– such as in the event of downsizing, etc. If you are accused of wrongful resignation, your employer may decide to take legal action against you for damages. Giving notice can be daunting but it is considered polite and if you want to leave on good terms and secure a positive reference for the future this is the right approach.

How to Resign from a Job Properly

When you are planning to leave a job, there are certain requirements that you must follow and factors that you must consider. In Canada, common law dictates that you must provide your employer with reasonable notice before your last day. Typically this is required as a written notice but is not a legal requirement usually. While this does not necessarily mean you must give a full two weeks, you still must ensure that you give your employer enough advance notice. Two weeks is simply the general rule of thumb. The amount of time required is dependent upon factors such as the pay, length of service, and time it would take to replace you, based on your position. In fact, you may even want to negotiate a fair departure notice if your position is especially important.

Once you proceed with putting forth your resignation, you should be sure to put this in writing. Write a formal resignation letter, rather than notifying your boss verbally. This way, you have a record of the resignation, your last day, and more. This can also come in handy in case your boss attempts to dispute your departure in court. Without proof of your resignation, they could claim that you did not quit or failed to give appropriate notice– and if this happens, it would be a matter of “he said, she said”. It can also set you up to be accused of wrongful resignation.

Additionally, if you do not give proper notice, your employer could decide to take you to court for wrongful resignation. It is not a common occurrence but is still something to be aware of. Your employer would be attempting to prove to the court that your leaving without notice has been financially damaging for the company.

Financials

If you decide to resign from your position, it is important to note the financial repercussions associated with this. Besides the fact that you will no longer have that income until you have a new job, you are likely not going to be able to get employment insurance, since you willfully left the position. However, in the case of workplace harassment, discrimination, or an otherwise toxic workplace, you may be able to get monetary compensation. Typically, severance pay is also not applicable in the case of a resignation.

As you will have given your notice and will then be continuing to work after this resignation letter has been handed in, your employer will still have to pay you for that portion of time– after your notice and up until your last day. If you are working the same hours and performing the same duties, your paycheck should not be affected. This also applies to group health and welfare benefits. It should also not affect your current pension plan. When it comes to this final paycheck, it should include your accumulated vacation pay as well. Any bonuses and commissions are subject to the employer’s policies and common law decisions, so be sure to read your contract or employee handbook well.

Legal Rights

You should ensure that you are aware of your legal rights in relation to your resignation. For instance, if you resign as a spur-of-the-moment decision under heated conditions, this may be reversible. Many courts may offer a cooling-off period in these situations to reconsider things and have done so in the past. That being said, this is not a guarantee. You should do your best to stay calm even under heated circumstances.

After you resign and are applying for new jobs, you may want to ask your previous employer for a recommendation. This is why it is important to avoid burning bridges and to go about your resignation the right way– because your previous employer is not required by law to give you any sort of recommendation going forward. On the other hand, if your employer wants to conduct an exit interview with you after you decide to leave, you are not legally required to attend or otherwise go through with this, either.

In Conclusion

It can be very confusing navigating the do’s and dont’s of putting in your notice at work. However, you simply need to remember that everyone does need to give some sort of notice before leaving. Depending on your role in the company, a two weeks notice may be more than enough or may be too short of a notice period. If you are unsure, check your contract or negotiate your notice with a supervisor!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it illegal to not give two weeks notice?

It is not illegal to quit a job without giving a two weeks notice, but it is considered to be inconsiderate and can look bad. You are, however, required to give reasonable notice of resignation. Unless there is a legally binding employee contract that specifies you must give two weeks, you are in the clear. Just be considerate in how much notice you give.

What happens if I quit without notice Canada?

If you quit without any notice in Canada, you may run into some issues, as you are required to give reasonable notice with a resignation. You may be liable to your former employer or company for damages– these would be calculated by assessing the cost to the employer from the result of your sudden resignation.

Do you have to give a reason for resignation?

No, you do not need to give your boss a reason for resignation. You can keep it simple and share that you are leaving for family or personal reasons, for example. Your employer does not have legal right to your personal details and information if you prefer not to share the reason you are leaving the company. At the end of the day, even job satisfaction can be more than enough reason.

Can your boss stop you from quitting?

No, your boss cannot stop you from quitting a job. While they may try to convince you or bully you into staying, they cannot legally prevent you from leaving the position. However, if you have signed a contract, you will want to take a look at that and ensure that you did not agree to work a specific number of days or through specific calendar dates.