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What is “Reasonable Notice” in Alberta?

Reasonable notice refers to the timeframe an employer must give an employee when their employment is ending, or will otherwise be undergoing significant changes. In Alberta, an employee who has been continuously employed for three months or more on an indefinite employment contract is entitled to the minimum amount of notice as set out in the Employment Standards Code, which can range from 1 week to 2 months, depending on the employee’s length of service.

However, an employee may be entitled to more than the minimum standard, based on various factors such as the type of employment, the employee’s length of service or the employee’s age. This is called “common law” notice and is based on written court decisions made by Judges.

Reasonable notice can be provided by way of working notice, pay in lieu of notice (often called severance), or a combination of both.

What is Considered “Reasonable” in Alberta?

Many of our clients have heard about the “rule of thumb” that, in addition to statutory minimums, an employer will usually pay one month of notice for every year of continuous service. Although sometimes adopted as a company policy, this is not actually the law. Instead, there are several factors that need to be weighed by the Court in order to decide what makes the notice “reasonable.” As such, this determination depends on the facts of each particular case. Some of these factors include:

  • The type or character of employment
  • The employee’s length of service
  • The age of the employee
  • The availability of comparable employment
  • The experience, training and qualifications of the employee

In addition, a Court may consider other factors such as the manner of termination, the employer’s conduct both before and during termination, and any relevant provisions in the employment contract regarding termination.

Is Reasonable Notice Always Required in Alberta?

No, there are certain circumstances where an employer is not required to provide reasonable notice of termination such as:

  • When the term of employment has been less than 90 days
  • When an employee is working pursuant to a fixed-term contract
  • When an employee is working pursuant to a seasonal employment contract
  • When an employee is terminated for cause

How Can a Lawyer Help?

An employment lawyer can conduct what is called a “reasonable notice assessment” in order to calculate the amount of reasonable notice or pay in lieu of notice that you may be entitled to. Many employees are owed significantly more than the statutory minimum pursuant to the Employment Standards Code, therefore it is important to have a lawyer review your termination paperwork and conduct a severance review before accepting a severance or termination package.

Contact a Calgary Employment Lawyer