What the Act says

The Act respecting labour standards contains certain provisions concerning the notices of termination of employment and of layoff for 6 months or more. These provisions protect the majority of Québec workers, whether they are full or part time.

Note

The notice of termination of employment is different from the record of employment issued by the employer gives you and that certifies the number of insurable hours worked by the employee. For more information on the record of employment, consult the employment insurance Web site.

An employer must give the employee a written notice of termination of employment before terminating his contract of employment or laying him off for a period of more than 6 months.  At the end of a contract for a fixed term or if the employee has completed the task for which he had been hired, the employer is not required to give this notice.

The time periods for giving the employee the notice vary according to his length of uninterrupted service.

Time period between the notice and when the employee leaves according to the employee’s uninterrupted service

Length of uninterrupted service

Time period between the notice and when the employee leaves

3 months to one year

One week

1 to 5 years

2 weeks

5 to 10 years

4 weeks

10 years or more

8 weeks

An employer is not required to give a notice of termination of employment to an employee credited with less than 3 months of uninterrupted service.

If the employer does not give the employee the notice of termination of employment within the stipulated time periods or gives it within a period of insufficient length, he will have to pay the employee a compensatory indemnity equal to the wages that the employee would normally have earned between the date when the notice should have been given to him and the date when his employment ends, excluding overtime.

When is the indemnity paid?

If an indemnity must be paid, it is paid at the time of the dismissal or the layoff for 6 months or more. The Act also permits the payment of this indemnity at the time of the following regular pay In the case of a layoff of indefinite length or one with a planned duration of 6 months but which ultimately exceeds this period, the indemnity must be paid by no later than 6 months after the layoff date.

Special provisions

The indemnity of an employee remunerated in whole or in part on commission corresponds to the weekly average of his wages during the complete periods of pay of the 3 months preceding his termination of employment or his layoff for more than 6 months.

uninterrupted service
The uninterrupted period during which the employee is bound to the employer by a contract of employment, even if the performance of work has been interrupted without cancellation of the contract, and the period during which fixed term contracts succeed one another without an interruption that would, under the circumstances, give cause to conclude that the contract was not renewed.
indemnity
Sum of money paid to the employee either to compensate for prejudice or to compensate for a leave or certain disadvantages.

Vincent has worked as a mechanic for 6 years. He was laid off 3 months ago. Today, he received by mail a letter from his employer informing him that his employment will end definitively in 4 weeks’ time. Is this legal?

No. The notice that Vincent received when he was laid off is of no effect. The employer will have to pay Vincent a compensatory indemnity equal to 4 weeks of wages.

The notice of termination of employment is of no effect and of no value if it is given to the employee while he is laid off, except in the case of a seasonal job, the length of which does not ordinarily exceed 6 months per year.

Generally, an employee who has a recall right for more than 6 months under a collective agreement and who was laid off for more than 6 months may claim his indemnity if he did not receive a layoff notice:

  • when his recall right expires if he was not recalled to work
  • one year after his layoff.

The employee is not entitled to the compensatory indemnity:

  • if he is recalled to work before the date when the employer is required to pay him this indemnity and if he then works for a period of time at least equal to that of the stipulated notice
  • if the fact that he is not recalled to work is the result of a case of superior force.

Certificate of employment

At the expiration of the contract of employment, an employee may ask that his employer give him a certificate of employment which shall exclusively describe this employee’s duties and the length of his employment. This certificate cannot describe the quality of the work or the employee’s conduct. It must also contain the employer’s name and address.

Sections of the Act applicable to this standard

Reasonable notice of termination under the Civil Code of Québec

An employee who believes that he is entitled to a reasonable notice of termination or a compensatory indemnity under article 2091 of the Civil Code of Québec may request it from his employer. This recourse may be exercised personally by the employee or, at his expense, with the assistance of the lawyer of his choice.

The employee is also required to give reasonable notice to his employer before quitting his job.

Exceptions

Some employees are excluded from the application of the provisions related to the notice of termination of employment and the notice of layoff for 6 months or more. They are:

  • employees with less than 3 months of uninterrupted service
  • employees who have committed a serious offence
  • employees dismissed or laid off due to superior force (example: fire)
  • employees whose contract for a fixed term ends
  • employees who have completed the precise task for which they had been hired.

How to calculate the indemnity

The Commission des normes du travail puts at your disposal calculation tools which help establish the amounts to which an employee is entitled.

The calculation of the indemnity is different according to the employee’s remuneration method.

Calculation tools for the indemnity for an:

Calculation example for

Frequently asked questions

  1. What notice must an employee give his employer when he quits his job?
    While there is no mention of any requirement that an employee give his employer notice under the Act respecting labour standards, article 2091 of the Civil Code of Québec stipulates that a reasonable notice must be given by an employee who resigns. The reasonable notice must notably take into account the nature of the job, the particular circumstances under which this job is carried out, as well as the duration of the work.

  2. Can an employee claim a notice of termination of employment if the enterprise for which he worked has declared bankruptcy?
    Yes. Although the Commission des normes du travail can only claim from the directors wages, which include all remuneration that may be earned by an employee, but which exclude the notice of termination of employment, employees have been able since March 12, 2009 to make an application under the Federal Wage Earner Protection Program, which will reimburse a portion of the unpaid indemnities associated with the notice of termination of employment of every eligible employee in case of bankruptcy.

  3. Vincent has worked as a mechanic for 6 years. He was laid off 3 months ago. Today, he received by mail a letter from his employer informing him that his employment will end definitively in 4 weeks’ time. Is this legal?
    No. The notice that Vincent received when he was laid off is of no effect. The employer will have to pay Vincent a compensatory indemnity equal to 4 weeks of wages.

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