Employee Dismissals

When it comes to employee dismissals, otherwise referred to as employee terminations, it is in an employer’s best interest to follow human resources best practices. Terminating an employee has many legal considerations. It is important to understand what to do and not do to avoid legal challenges for wrongful dismissal.

What is the law behind employee dismissals?

The rules for employee terminations are established by the province in which your business operates, within the employment standards regulations. Overall, the legal terms and conditions for employee dismissals are defined through termination of employment, whereby an employee is terminated if an employer:

  • Dismisses or stops employing an employee (applicable to an employer’s bankruptcy)
  • Constructively dismisses an employee, leading the employee to resign
  • Lays off an employee, longer than a temporary layoff

How to Dismiss an Employee

In most cases, when it comes to dismissing an employee, employment standards do not require an employer to give reason for termination. While this is applicable to most dismissals, there are certain situations where an employer cannot terminate an employee, even with severance pay. We always advise employers to seek advice before dismissing an employee.


  1. Give written notice of termination following the legal obligation of employers to provide adequate notice period; this is based on an employee’s length of employment
  2. Provide termination pay (also known as severance pay) if dismissal occurs without notice
  3. Ensure that employment contracts clearly state the terms and conditions for termination clauses; this should meet the minimum standards set out by employment standards regulations


  1. Refuse a positive reference—it is advised for employers to confirm their previous employees’ dates of employment, position, title, and responsibilities without further comment
  2. Assume just cause without proof of reasonable grounds to terminate an employee
  3. Misinform employees of their termination package; the terms and conditions should be clearly stated in your employment contract

Constructive Dismissals

In addition to fully terminating an employee, a dismissal can occur if an employee resigns in response to organizational changes. This is known as a constructive dismissal. Specifically, this may occur when an employer significantly changes a fundamental employment term or condition without actual or implied consent. Constructive dismissals also refer to a series of small changes that, with time, affect an employee’s work and ultimately leads to resignation. This area of the law is complex and we advise clients to ask for legal help to avoid any challenges.

Considering your legal obligations surrounding employee termination?

We can answer your questions about employee dismissals, or any other employment-related matter. Employer Line offers a complimentary advice line with HR experts. Pick up the phone for a free consultation.