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Being fired, laid off, or constructively dismissed

Region: Ontario Answer # 601

Contrary to what many employees think, an employer can end a non-union employee’s job at any time, and for any reason. However, the employer is required by law to give the employee a minimum amount of notice, or pay instead of notice, unless the employee was fired for willful misconduct or neglect of duty. There are three basic ways for you to be dismissed;

  • You can be fired;
  • You can be laid off for long enough that your employment is considered to be terminated; or
  • You can be put in a position where you are made to accept a lesser position or made to quit.

Getting fired

Many employees lose their jobs by being fired. Generally, it is proper practice for an employer to give an employee a termination letter stating that their job has ended and when their last day of work is.

Getting laid off

Some employees who work for companies that do not always have enough work, or whose plant shuts down from time to time, get laid off. Employees are usually informed of a layoff with a written notice. In many cases, if you are laid off, you have not lost your job permanently, and you will usually have the right to return to your job if the company gets new work or re-opens the plant.

Generally, if you have been laid off for more than 13 weeks, your employment will be considered terminated and you will have the same rights as if you were fired. However, if you are laid off, but you continue to receive fringe benefits from your employer, you will not be considered terminated until 35 weeks after you were first laid off. For some employees any layoff can be a constructive dismissal, if you were not in the type of position or company where layoffs could be anticipated. You should speak with a lawyer if you have been laid off to determine if it is a constructive dismissal.

Constructive dismissal

Sometimes employees are not fired directly, but may lose certain rights or even be made to quit their job. Under the law, they are considered to have all the same rights as if they were actually fired. In law this is called constructive dismissal.

Situations of constructive dismissal include:

  • if the employer decides to substantially change an employee’s job description without the employee’s consent;
  • if an employer reduces an employee’s pay; or
  • if an employee is made to quit because of harassment or intimidation.

Employment Insurance benefits

If you lose your job, through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to receive regular Employment Insurance benefits from the federal Government of Canada. Eligibility is based on how you lost your job, and how long you were working before your job ended. If you qualify for Employment Insurance benefits, in most circumstances, you will receive 55% of your average insurable weekly earnings, up-to a maximum amount.

Effective January 1, 2021, the maximum insurable earning amount has increased from $54,200 to $56,300. This means that an insured worker will pay EI premiums in 2021 on insured earnings up to $56,300. The maximum weekly EI benefit rate has increased from $573 to $595 per week.

Temporary changes due to COVID-19

Due to the current pandemic, the Government of Ontario has implemented temporary changes to various employment law programs and procedures. For the most up-to-date information, visit COVID-19: temporary changes to ESA rules.

Get help

A criminal record will appear on an employment police check and will affect your ability to get or keep a job. To erase your criminal record, learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

If you have been dismissed from work due to an injury, or cannot return to work due to an injury, or are involved in an employment dispute and require legal advice and assistance, contact our preferred paralegals Nicola (Nick) Giannantonio Legal Services. .  They offer a free consultation and do not charge up-front fees.


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