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Terminating an employee can be hazardous to your businesses

Are you thinking of firing an employee? Don’t act without careful consideration of a few important matters. 

As an employer, you have legal obligations you must meet. While options are available, going about firing someone the wrong way can be very expensive and could jeopardize the health of your business.

No sure-fire process, so do your homework

You need to follow statutory law (minimum requirements according to the employment standards laws) specific to termination. Every province and the federal government have different laws that may apply in your jurisdiction. Put briefly, termination may be more complicated than you think and there is no sure-fire set of steps that will always leave you feeling comfortable. 

The information piece What to consider when terminating an employee provides valuable insight on how termination works in Canada. We highly recommend you go over it first before taking any step to let an employee go. You can ask your local CFIB representative for a copy. 

If you are an employer in Quebec, read instead our article La cessation d’emploi : tout ce que vous devez savoir (in French only). You may need to consider requirements under the Common Law, the Civil Code as well as the federal Canada Labour Code. Know what you are doing before you act. Getting it right the first time will lessen your chance of having to deal with significant financial harm later on, such as thousands of dollars in legal bills and potentially tens of thousands in court-imposed judgements.

Firing for cause: not worth the risk

There is only one step we can unequivocally recommend when considering the termination process: Do Not Fire for Cause without an employment lawyer first advising you on what to expect. Check any impulse to act quickly. Firing for cause could cost you more that you imagine and leave your business at risk.

In Quebec, if you terminate an employee who has 2 years or more of uninterrupted service, you must have a valid reason, and that reason needs to be communicated to the employee. It should also follow other, less severe kinds of discipline. Since the employee has the right to file a claim for wrongful dismissal, it is safer to seek the advice of a labour law lawyer.

Contracts help protect your business

Employment contracts strengthen your relationship with your employees by maintaining expectations and minimizing misunderstanding. We strongly recommend a written contract to form the basis of any hiring decision.

From our 45-plus years of helping CFIB members just like you, our Business Resources team has insights and tips to help you handle this decision well. You are invited to contact one of our business counsellors at any time by calling 1-888-234-2232.

September 3, 2020

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