Mass termination provisions in Alberta and Saskatchewan
We have been advising frequently on this topic lately for our Western Canadian clients. When planning a restructuring, it is easy for an employer to inadvertently overlook statutory mass termination provisions. Here is a quick reference:
In Alberta, under the Employment Standards Code, an employer who intends to terminate 50 or more employees at a single location within a 4-week period must give 4 weeks’ written notice to the Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour. The form of notice is available online at work.alberta.ca
Alternatively, if an employer is unable to complete the form, it may send a notice of the group termination to the following address:
The notice must specify the number of employees who will be terminated and the effective date. However, the above group termination notice requirement does not apply to employees who are employed on a seasonal basis or for a definite term or task.
Under section 2-62 of the Saskatchewan Employment Act, an employer who intends to terminate 10 or more employees at one place of employment within any 4-week period must give written notice to the Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, each employee being terminated, and any union representing such employee.
Under Section 31 of the Saskatchewan Employment Standards Regulations, the required notice for group terminations in Saskatchewan varies depending on the number of employees being terminated:
- # of Employees Terminated
- 10-49 employees
- 50-99 employees
- 100+ employees
- Notice Required
- 4 weeks
- 8 weeks
- 12 weeks
As with Alberta’s legislation, certain employees are exempt from the group termination notice requirement. These employees include those who:
- work on an “on call” basis (the employer may request the employee to come to work at any time for a temporary period and
the employee may accept or reject one or more of the requests);
- are employed for a definite term or project with a completion date that is reasonably foreseeable;
- are offered and refuse reasonable alternate work;
- are terminated because of a seasonal reduction of the employer’s operations, suspension of those operations or closure of those operations if that reduction, suspension or closure is normal for that employer;
- have reached the age of retirement that is the established age of retirement for that employer and their employment has been terminated for that reason; or
- are unable to work because of an unforeseeable event or circumstance (e.g. an unpredictable disaster).
An employer may apply to the Saskatchewan director of employment standards for an exemption from the written notice requirement. The director may grant an exemption if he or she is satisfied that giving written notice would be prejudicial to the employer and the employees.
Unlike in Alberta, Saskatchewan does not utilize a standard form for providing notices. The notice must specify the number of employees being terminated, the effective date or dates of such terminations, and the reasons for termination. Notice to the Minister should be sent by mail or in the event of tight timelines via facsimile transmission as set out below:
In addition, we recommend mailing a copy of the above mentioned correspondence to the following address:
If you have any questions about this or related topics, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
By Benjamin Aberant and Shana Wolch, McCarthy Tétrault’s Labour & Employment Group
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