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Legal Consideration Before Resigning From A Job

There’s more to Resigning From A Job than handing in your notice of departure. It seems pretty simple. You just say “I quit” to your boss and that’s that.

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

There are other things to learn about before taking the plunge. 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 that specifically states the amount of notice to be provided by the employee, Canadian common law requires that “reasonable notice” be offered by the employee 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 especially important 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 that you failed 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 charge 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 provide proof indicating that they were financially damaged by your actions.

Financial Matters

Will I get employment insurance if I resign?

Normally, when someone quits his or her job, he or she is not eligible to collect Employment Insurance. 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. You won’t know for sure except you ask.

It might be worth requesting if you can prove that your employer deem 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’ve given proper notice then fulfill your duties accordingly then 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 pay check after you have tendered your resignation. Although they may decide to delay it somewhat in order to get back at you. They also have to include accumulated vacation pay. Bonuses and commissions owed, on the other hand, depend 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 on learning you’ve 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 requires 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