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Layoffs and Termination

The Saskatchewan Employment Act outlines the rules that employers and employees must follow when laying off employees and terminating employment.  There are additional rules that an employer must follow if there is a group termination.

Layoff means the temporary interruption by an employer of the services of an employee for a period exceeding six consecutive work days.
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1. Individual Termination

An employer must give written notice to an employee before a layoff or a termination of employment occurs, unless the employer has just cause to dismiss the employee.

Just Cause

“Just cause” generally involves employee misconduct.   Employers are expected to manage employee misconduct as they would other employee performance issues. 

For example, employers should:

  • Be objective in assessing employee performance
  • Impose proportional disciplinary responses
  • Keep records

Remember employers carry the burden of proof. Employee misconduct must not only be serious enough to justify the summary dismissal, but the employer must be able to prove misconduct on an objective standard. 

Note: The law in this area can be complex. Businesses may want to consult a lawyer for advice.

Notice Periods

The amount of notice is based on the following periods of employment*:

Employee's Period of Employment
Minimum Period of Written Notice
more than 13 consecutive weeks but one year or less
one week
more than one year but three years or less
two weeks
more than three years but five years or less
four weeks
more than five years but 10 years or less
six weeks
more than 10 years
eight weeks

* Periods of employment are defined as any period of employment that is not interrupted by more than 14 consecutive days.

Notice is not required if:

  • the employee has not worked for the employer for at least 13 weeks;
  • the employee quits;
  • just cause exists; or
  • if the employer provides the employee with pay instead of notice.

Employee’s Notice of Employment Termination

Under The Saskatchewan Employment Act, employees are required to give their employer advance written notice before quitting.

Any employee who has been employed for at least 13 consecutive weeks with the same employer must provide the employer with a written notice at least two weeks before leaving a job. The notice must state the last day that the employee will work before leaving the job.

Employers may waive employees giving written notice.


Exceptions

The Saskatchewan Employment Act recognizes that an employee’s notice of resignation is not appropriate in all situations. Some examples include:

  • The employee quits for health and safety reasons;
  • The employee quits due to a wage reduction; or
  • The employee's contract terminates through no fault of either employer or employee (e.g., fire destroys business).

Pay Instead of Notice

If notice is not given, pay instead of notice is required. This means payment of the employee’s normal wages for the minimum notice period is required.  If the employee’s wages vary from week to week, a normal week’s wages is calculated based on the employee’s average wages earned over the last 13 weeks of work, not including overtime, tips, and gratuities.

Pay instead of notice is not required if:

  • The employee has not completed 13 consecutive weeks of employment with the employer;
  • The employee quits or retires; or
  • The employee is dismissed for just cause.

Entitlements that cannot be part of notice

The employer cannot require the employee to take paid vacation leave as part of the notice period. Vacation pay cannot be used as pay instead of notice.  Vacation pay must be paid on termination in addition to any pay earned during the notice period.

The employer also cannot schedule the employee to take paid regular time off from an overtime bank as part of the notice period. Similarly, an overtime bank payout cannot be used as pay instead of notice.

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2. Group Termination

A group termination occurs when an employer terminates 10 or more employees at one place of employment within a four-week period.  Termination includes a layoff with no recall date or a layoff of 26 weeks or more. The employer must give notice of group termination.

Notice Periods

The minimum notice required for group termination is:

 

10 to 49 employees   4 weeks
 50 to 99 employees  8 weeks
100 or more employees
12 weeks
An employer is not required to give notice of group termination where the employees:

  • Work on an “on call” basis;
  • Are employed for a definite period (e.g., eight weeks);
  • Are employed for a specific project with a completion date that is reasonably foreseeable (e.g., a construction project);
  • Are offered and refuse reasonable alternate work;
  • Are employed on a seasonal basis;
  • Are laid off for a period less than 26 weeks; or
  • Are unable to work because of an unpredictable disaster.
Written notice must be provided to:
  • The Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety;
  • Each employee whose employment will be terminated; and
  • Any union representing the affected employees.

Written notice must include:

  • The number of employees who will be terminated;
  • The effective date or dates of their termination; and
  • The reason(s) for termination.
Employees affected by a group termination must also get an individual termination notice. The employer can give notice of individual and group termination in the same document and at the same time, provided the notice given meets the time required for both individual and group terminations.

 

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