When it comes to being fired from a job, employers seem to hold all the power. Understanding your rights after being terminated can be confusing and complicated. The following is a helpful guide in understanding your rights as a terminated employee. In most cases, if you are terminated from your job, you are entitled to notice of termination by your employer. If your employer decides to fire you without giving you notice, you should receive termination pay instead of notice. The notice period exists to help terminated employees look for alternative employment.

When an employer fails to provide an employee with reasonable notice, or pay in lieu of notice, the employee may claim wrongful dismissal. The amount of notice an employee should receive is dependent on several factors.

Here is a list of factors the courts will look at in determining how much notice an employee is entitled to:

1. Character of the employment

Under this factor the courts are looking at the availability of alternative employment opportunities for the employee. It is presumed that people in senior positions or with a more specialized skill set will have a harder time finding new work. That being said, the courts seem to be moving away from the idea that junior employees automatically have an easier time finding suitable alternative employment.

2. Length of service 

This factor recognizes an employee’s loyalty, dedication and investment of time and effort into his or her career should be rewarded with a longer notice period.

3. Age

This factor acknowledges that older employees will have more difficulty finding alternative employment than younger employees. Many older employees may lack the modern skills and recent training required for new positions.

4. Availability of similar employment, having regard to the employee’s experience, training, and qualifications 

To a certain extent, this factor is incorporated into the other three factors. Here, the courts are looking at whether similar employment will be available based on the current industry trends and the length of time it will take to find a comparable position.

Each factor must be applied on a case-by-case basis, and no one factor should be given disproportionate weight. Overall, the courts will look at the particular facts of each case in determining the appropriate amount of notice.

If you have any questions or concerns about your notice period entitlement, the best advice is to always consult a lawyer!