Minimum Notice Period

Minimum Notice Period

Minimum Notice PeriodWhat is the Minimum Notice Period?

In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act, 2000  sets out the minimum legislative standards for notice, termination pay and severance. However, if the company is a federal enterprise or a federally incorporated company, legislation under the Canada Labour Code  applies regardless of where an employee physically works. There are significant differences between the two with respect to minimum notice and severance. Special rules also apply in the case of “mass terminations” in which 50 or more employees are terminated at an employer’s establishment within a four-week period.


The following is a table outlining the statutory minimums under Ontario’s ESA, 2000:

Length of Employment Minimum Notice Required  
Under 3 months None
3 months to under 1 year 1 week
1 year to under 3 years 2 weeks
3 years to under 4 years 3 weeks
4 years to under 5 years 4 weeks
5 years to under 6 years 5 weeks
6 years to under 7 years 6 weeks
7 years to under 8 years 7 weeks
8 years or more 8 weeks


The above table set out  the minimum amount of notice that must be given to employees.

In most cases, an employee is entitled to more compensation or notice than the statutory minimum, regardless of whether the employee has been with the employer for a very long or very short period of time.  The statutory minimums generally do not fully satisfy the employers’ obligation and the employees’ entitlement.

Common law notice usually supplements an employee’s statutory notice entitlement. Common law notice is based on a number of factors, including an employee’s position, age and length of service. Common law notice is determined by analyzing previous judges’ decisions.


Cautions When Contesting the Notice Period

Because statutory minimums do not usually satisfy the definition of reasonable notice, the amount of notice could form the basis for a wrongful dismissal claim. Employers need to ensure that the notice they provide to their employees is suitable for each particular case, and employees need to be aware of their entitlements under both statutory and the common law.


Is Severance the Same as Termination Pay?

Severance is technically different from pay in lieu of notice, also known as “termination pay”. In certain circumstances, it may be due in addition to termination pay depending on how long the employee worked for the company.


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