Employees and in particular, those who are not members of a bargaining unit working in a unionized work place, are subject to an express or implied contract of employment. For those employees whose employment is defined by the terms of a written agreement or contract of employment, their rights to notice of termination are usually specified in the contract with the employer. Notwithstanding any terms in the agreement, however, said contract terms are required to comply with the Alberta Employment Standards Code, R.S.A. 2000 c-E-9 and in particular, parties are not permitted to derogate from the terms of said Code so as to provide less protection for an employee than is specified thereunder. In short, whether an individual is a party to a written contract of employment or is employed under an implied contract, the terms of theEmployment Standards Code provide the minimum threshold which would apply to such employment situations.
An employer is at liberty to terminate an individual’s employment at any time. Where such employment is terminated as a result of an employee’s actions which are sufficiently serious as to give rise to cause for discharge, there is no requirement to give notice.
In circumstances where an employer wishes to terminate the employment of an individual and cause is not an issue, then the Employment Standards Code sets out the minimum amount of written notice required, however, this amount does not address an employee’s claim under the common law to notice which is usually greater than that specified under the Code.
In some circumstances, an employer may choose to provide pay in lieu of notice to terminate an employee and said payment must correspond to the amount of written notice required under theCode.
When any individual is faced with a termination of their employment, they would be wise to consult with legal counsel in order to determine what their rights are, both under the Employment Standards Code as well as under the common law, in order to ensure they have all the necessary information to protect their interests.