Understanding Termination Without Cause

Employment Law | November 25, 2021

When discussing employment law and termination, “cause” is an important element that should be understood by both employers and employees. “Cause” refers to an employee-related reason for termination such as improper conduct, breach of contract, or serious offenses. When an employee is terminated without cause, this is often due to company/employer-related reasons such as restructuring, cost reduction, or poor sales/performance. That said, an employer can simply choose to terminate an employee for no apparent reason if desired. As experts in employment law, cause, and termination, the employment lawyers at Linley Welwood understand how complicated these elements can be. That is why our experts have compiled some information to help employees and employers understand termination without cause and when it is/is not applicable.

Can an employee be terminated while on leave?

Can an Employer Terminate Without Cause in BC?

Yes, as long as the reason for termination is not discriminatory. Termination without cause is absolutely legal in British Columbia so long as the employer provides either reasonable notice or reasonable pay instead of notice.

Find out what you need to know about losing your job in BC.

How Much Pay Are Employees Entitled to?

If a BC employer fails to provide reasonable notice before terminating an employee, sufficient payment must be provided. Failure to provide this payment can result in a wrongful dismissal case. This payment amount will vary based on how long the employee has been with the company, though the following minimum requirements will apply in most situations:

  • After three consecutive months of employment: one week’s pay must be provided.
  • After 12 consecutive months of employment: two weeks’ pay must be provided.
  • After 36 consecutive months of employment: three weeks’ pay must be provided.
  • For each additional year: a week’s pay (up to a maximum of eight weeks) must be provided.

Please note that “consecutive” months of employment may include combined periods after temporary breaks in service, though this can vary in some circumstances.

Learn all about what qualifies as appropriate termination notice in BC.

When is Payment Not Required?

Payment is typically not required in instances where reasonable notice has been provided. The length of reasonable notice is based on the following factors:

  • The employee’s length of service.
  • Age of employee.
  • The employee’s position, salary, and responsibilities.
  • Availability of similar employment/positions at the time of termination.

It should be noted that neither pay nor notice is required if an employee is terminated without cause in the following circumstances:

  • They have worked for less than three consecutive months.
  • They quit or retired from their position.
  • Their employment contract has ended.
  • An unforeseeable event makes it impossible for the planned work to be performed (this does not include bankruptcy, receivership, or insolvency).
  • The employee refuses to accept reasonable alternative employment such as a similar position.
  • They are terminated for just cause (e.g., breach of contract, improper conduct, etc.).

Find out when working notice is required.

To learn more about termination without cause or to discuss your employment law case, get in touch with the experts at Linley Welwood. We can be reached through our online contact form and will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding your case.

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