Part I - Act respecting labour standards
CHAPTER IV - Labour standards
In the case of a superior force or where an unforeseeable event prevents an employer from respecting the time periods for giving notice set out in section 84.0.4, the employer shall give the Minister a notice of collective dismissal as soon as the employer is in a position to do so.
2002, c. 80, s. 49.
If the employer was prevented from respecting the time periods of the previous section due to superior force or an unforeseen event, he must give the notice of collective dismissal to the Ministère de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale as soon as he can.
In these cases, it is up to the employer to show that an event occurred which may be considered superior force or the unforeseeable nature of the event.
See the interpretation of paragraph 4) of section 82.1 ALS for the definition of superior force.
As for the notion of unforeseen event, one may speak of an event for which the employer was unable to predict the potential consequences and which, moreover, does not have the uncontrollable nature of superior force. Hence, the unforeseen event is an event that is unknown to the employer, not caused by his fault, which leads to the impossibility to perform in a given situation. In this case, the employer who is not at fault cannot foresee, within a reasonable framework, the impact and the consequences of such an event.
For example, if a contract is cancelled for a reason that is not attributable to the employer, i.e. without it being the fault or the will of the employer, one could say that an unforeseen event occurred and that the contract had to be cancelled. Conversely, if several persons bid on a contract, it is foreseeable for each bidder that the contract may not be awarded to him. In this latter case, the employer could not invoke an unforeseen event to justify the failure to give the notice or the giving of a notice of insufficient length.
Moreover, it should be pointed out that in the case of collective dismissal, the role of the Commission des normes du travail consists of qualifying the event that justified the failure to send a notice of collective dismissal or the sending of a notice of insufficient length. Indeed, unlike in the case of the recourses provided for under the Act respecting labour standards, (see s. 122 and following) where it is up to the employer to justify the choice of the employees laid off, the Commission will not be required, within the context of these standards, to evaluate the employer’s decision concerning the choice of employees affected by the collective dismissal.