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How Much Notice Does an Employee Need to Give When Resigning?

Employment Law | December 22, 2020

The term “two weeks’ notice” is an incredibly common one within employment scenarios. It denotes the customary minimum amount of time that is expected to give to an employer when resigning from a job. Employment lawyers occasionally get asked questions about how much notice an employee is required to give when resigning, and whether this notice is a legal requirement or a courtesy. At Linley Welwood, we are always ready to help both employers and employees sort out what their legal rights and obligations are in order to ensure smooth relationships.

Does an Employee Need to Give Notice When Resigning?

In British Columbia, employment situations are governed by the Employment Standards Act, which outlines what rights employees and employers have within their working relationship. Although an employer is legally required to give a set amount of notice in most cases to terminate an employee or offer payment in lieu of notice, there is no set amount of time that an employee is required to give their employer before resigning from their position; however, this does not mean that no notice is required by an employee to resign. Some employment contracts dictate the amount of resignation notice that is required, but other contracts might not mention it or there may not even be a written contract of employment. Although many people view resignation notice as a courtesy, it should be considered an obligation due to various court cases that have ruled in favour of employers over employees when no resignation notice was given.

Why is it Important to Give Resignation Notice?

The purpose of offering notice of resignation is to give an employer the chance to avoid incurring financial losses due to their organization having a lapse in capabilities. A reduced workforce or the loss of a key member of a company can cause an employer to lose work they had lined up or force them to make impromptu adjustments to their company structure, which can be costly. Proper resignation notice gives an employer time to make adjustments. There have been court cases in BC wherein an employer has taken action against an employee for not offering enough resignation notice, causing financial damage to the employer’s business. In these cases, the employee is often required to pay restitution to their former employer for these damages.

What Kind of Resignation Notice is Required?

In most cases, a written notice of two weeks is customary and acceptable if the resignation were ever brought to court; however, other factors can influence how much notice is required for resignation. The employee’s position within the company and how vital they are to the company’s operation is a key component in determining how much notice must be given. It is also important to consider how long an employee has been with a company and how difficult they will be to replace. When accepting a new position or offering a position to a new employee, make sure to feature this information in their employment contract.

If you would like to learn more about how much notice an employee needs to give when resigning, or to find out about the legal services offered by Linley Welwood, please contact our team of employment lawyers and we can help you find the answers you need.


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