What is considered Reasonable Notice?

Reasonable notice laws are applied by the common law courts to the termination of employment contracts. It is what judges in the courts across Canada say is the notice an employer owes the employee at the point it chooses to terminate the employment.  In common terms the phrases “reasonable notice” and “contractual notice” are often interchangeable with “severance pay”.

Who receives severance pay?

Every employment at common law can potentially attract the requirement for some kind of severance package upon dismissal. In most cases of termination of employment, that severance pay will be determined under the common law principles of reasonable notice, with the exceptions listed below.

Exceptions and limitations to reasonable notice

  • Union employment
  • Employment where a valid written contract sets out the agreed notice in advance – although the contract may be superseded by changes to the employment
  • Fixed term employment that is subject to renewal procedures
  • Termination occurs for just cause

Receiving a severance package from your employer

In most cases, the employer is unaware of reasonable notice laws, or the employer knows of it but decides to offer something that is less than reasonable notice. In our nearly 20 years as an employment law firm, we have encountered only one case where the employer correctly calculated severance pay at the time of termination.  This unfairness of the employer is what brings dismissed employees to continue to contact us. We determine the correct amount of notice based on case law, and then contact the employer and negotiate the severance payment for you.  It is often our clients’ experience that bargaining directly with the employer does not yield satisfactory results until a lawyer is involved.

Determining the correct severance payment

Employers frequently are unaware of the rules governing termination of employment, especially at common law.  In order to treat the employee fairly and lawfully – and avoid a wrongful termination lawsuit – it is essential to accurately calculate how much notice is owed to an employee, and either pay out that amount on termination or else negotiate with the employee for some other arrangement.  In our experience employers who attempt this without the assistance of their own employment lawyer are more likely to hear back from the dismissed employee’s employment lawyer.  You can avoid this by contacting us to determine how much notice your employee is entitled to have.  We will work with you to develop a severance package that is fair to all parties.

How the severance payment is calculated

Every employment relationship is unique.  The law looks at a number of factors particular to each individual employment situation to calculate reasonable notice. It is not a precise science, but there are thousands of decided cases across Canada that form a sort of database that allows a fairly accurate assessment of what the period of reasonable notice will be for your employment situation.

Contact us or complete our short questionnaire, and a lawyer will respond to you to determine how much reasonable notice is owed to you or your employee.