As an employer in B.C., it’s unfortunate when you are forced to terminate an employee. However, when doing so, it’s essential that you remain compliant with B.C.’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) to stay compliant and protected from Wrongful Dismissal claims, as well as potential fines. To do so, it’s essential you provide the terminated employee with the entitlements they are owed in accordance with the ESA. You must also ensure your actions are compliant with the Human Rights Code.  

Terminations for cause & without cause   

In B.C., there are two forms of terminations: 

  • Terminations for cause   
  • Terminations without cause   

When an employer terminates an employee without cause, they do not provide a reason for the termination. And this is perfectly legal as employers in British Columbia are not required to provide a reason for letting an employee go. However, the termination cannot conflict with ESA or Human Rights Code protected grounds. When an employee is terminated without cause, they are entitled to either Termination Notice, Termination Pay or a combination of both.  

On the other hand, when an employer terminates an employee for cause, they have a valid reason for terminating the employee. Terminations for cause occur when an employer believes an employee has committed a serious act of wilful misconduct and/or breach of contract. In these cases, the onus of proof is on the employer to show on a balance of probabilities that an employee breached an employment contract in a fundamental way or has committed misconduct that has irreparably damaged the employment relationship”. These cases are rarer than terminations for cause, due to the burden of evidence being that much higher.  

Potential reasons for a termination for cause include: 

  • Stealing 
  • Assaulting a co-worker 
  • Committing fraud 

What is Termination Notice?  

An employee is entitled to written, reasonable notice of termination if they have been working for a company for more than three months. The amount of notice the employee is entitled to is based on their length of employment. And employers are required to make sure that said employee is able to earn an income throughout the notice period.  

The notice period cannot begin if the employee is:  

  • On vacation 
  • On leave 
  • On temporary layoff 
  • On strike or lockout 
  • Off work for medical reasons 

Essentially, if an employee is away from work, an employer cannot provide notice until they return. And once this period has begun, they may not change aspects of the role (e.g. wages) without signed permission from the employee.  

What is Termination Pay?   

An employer can opt to provide termination pay In lieu of notice. This option is ideal for those who do not want the employee working through the notice period and would prefer to sever ties.  employer may choose this option if they do not want the employee to work through the notice period and would prefer to provide a lump sum payment.   

 To calculate termination pay, follow this formula:  

  • Three months of employment but less than one year = one week of notice and/or pay
  • One year of employment but less than three years = two weeks of notice and/or pay 
  • Three or more years of employment = three weeks of notice and/or pay, plus one week of notice/pay for each additional year of employment to a cap of 8 weeks. 

Still need help?  

 If you need help understanding Terminations in B.C., Employer Line is here to help. Call today at 1-888-219-8767 and an expert will be happy to walk you through it.