Legal Consideration Before Resigning From A Job

There is more to Resigning From A Job than handing in your notice of departure. It seems straightforward. You say “I quit” to your boss, and that is that.

When you terminate your employment, you and the employer have legal obligations. For instance, you must give reasonable notice: more than two weeks may be needed, but it is customary. Also, if you quit in the heat of an emotional moment, it might not be seen that you have resigned!

There are other things to learn about before taking the plunge. For example, although getting sued for “wrongful resignation” is uncommon, it has been known to happen.

Resigning Properly

How much notice does an employee need to give an employer?

Unless there’s a forceful employment contract explicitly stating the amount of notice to be provided by the employee, Canadian common law requires that “reasonable notice” be offered when they resign. It’s not legal, but normal to give two weeks of notice.

However, a “reasonable” resignation period is based on several factors. These include the employee’s position, pay, length of service, and time it would likely take to replace the employee. If your position is crucial to the company, you may want to negotiate a fair departure notice with your employer.

Must I submit a letter of resignation?

It is also advisable to submit your resignation in person; otherwise, it will only be on record verbally. If the employer decides to claim you didn’t quit by disputing your parting in court or failing to give appropriate notice, you may not like it if it has to be your word against theirs.

What is Wrongful Resignation?

You could be charged to court for wrongful resignation by your employer if you don’t provide reasonable notice when quitting. But this doesn’t happen often. The employer would have to prove that your actions financially damaged them.

Financial Matters

Will I get employment insurance if I resign?

When someone quits their job, they cannot collect Employment Insurance. However, that could change if there are certain extenuating circumstances, such as providing proof indicating that you were harassed, constructively dismissed, had your Human Rights violated, or it was a toxic workplace.

What about severance pay?

Ordinarily, severance pay isn’t available in resignations. However, you won’t know for sure unless you ask.

It might be worth requesting that you prove that your employer deems your departure a downsizing (termination, not for cause). Then you may likely be entitled to severance and employment insurance.

Is my employer obligated to pay me for my entire notice period?

If you have given proper notice and then fulfilled your duties accordingly, the answer is ‘yes.’ An employer should maintain your pay during the accepted notice period, including group health and welfare benefits, whether or not they ask you to leave immediately.

Do they have to give me my final paycheck after I quit?

Yes, you are entitled to your final paycheck after you have tendered your resignation. However, your employer may delay it somewhat to get back at you. They also have to include accumulated vacation pay. On the other hand, bonuses and commissions are owed depending on the employer’s policies and common law decisions.

Legal Rights

If I quit under heated circumstances, is that final?

Quitting rashly – for instance, after arguing with the boss or learning you have been deprived of an expected raise – may be reversible. Courts have granted a cooling-off period of several days to think things through, even after the employer formally accepted a resignation. There’s no guarantee, though. So keep cool during a heated resignation and try to have a rethink.

Does my current employer have to provide a positive reference?

The employer is not legally obligated to provide any reference, never mind a glowing one.

Do I have to attend an exit interview if asked to do so?

Some employers require departing workers to take part in an exit interview. They want to know your reason for leaving and what they could have done to improve. This is not a legal obligation to attend.

You can also see what makes a valid job offer in Canada.

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