Lay-Off Employment Services

Employer Not Allowed to Play Dumb on Resignation

Were You Laid-Off Unexpectedly?

Many employers and employees in the Alberta workforce use the term lay-off and termination interchangeably, but they are different.  Any permanent end of the working relationship is in legal terms a termination of employment, not a lay-off.

Temporary lay-offs are typically imposed by employers due to shortage of work, and are sometimes even called “shortage of work” layoffs.  Recently, many employers have imposed lay-offs or even extended lay-offs on the basis of COVID-19 or the rapidly changing economy in Calgary and throughout Alberta.

The Alberta Employment Standards Code has sections relating to lay-offs and when extended temporary lay-offs automatically become permanent lay-offs, which are really just terminations of employment.

Did Your Employer Breach Your Contract?

Some courts have considered even temporary layoffs to be a breach of the employment contract (whether the contract is verbal or written) which could give rise to a constructive dismissal, despite the sections in the Alberta Employment Standards Code and other similar legislation in other provinces which would otherwise appear to allow temporary layoffs.

Whether an employer is allowed to layoff its employees in a given situation is something we can advise you on.  Bow River Law provides legal services for laid off employees and employers needing to carry out employee layoffs.  Let us help you.

Cautionary Notes

  • Employers in Calgary and throughout Alberta will sometimes try to get employees to sign something indicating that they “agree” to a layoff
  • If your employer has laid you off or tried to get you to agree to a layoff, legal advice that is tailored to your situation could really help you

Lay-Offs FAQ

  • Can my employer lay me off without pay?

    Although the Employment Standards Code appears to allow this, some cases have found that an employer is not allowed to lay off an employee without pay, and that it counts as “constructive dismissal”, where the employee can quit and sue as if he or she were dismissed. Employers have strategies to improve the chances that a layoff will be allowed, so it is important that you get legal advice as soon as possible if you are given notice of a layoff.

  • Is a Permanent Lay-Off Allowed in Alberta?

    An employer is generally allowed to transition a temporary lay-off to a permanent lay-off, but that is normally just the same as a dismissal of employment, resulting in the employee being owed severance (reasonable notice).

Contact Us

Suite #1240, 540 – 5 Avenue S.W.
Calgary, Alberta T2P 0M2
Call Now: 587-391-7601

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