Hiring, training, and terminating employees is part of running and growing your business.
As an employer, it is important that you understand your rights and those of your employees when it comes to termination of employment to avoid wrongful dismissal claims.
Understanding Saskatchewan’s legislation on termination will help you manage an employee’s resignation or terminate an employee in compliance with the Saskatchewan Employment Act.
This blog answers some common questions employers may have about termination of employment in Saskatchewan.
What is considered a termination of employment?
A termination of employment occurs when an employment relationship is ended. Other expressions for employee terminations include, “dismissed,” “fired”, “let go,” or “permanently laid off.”
How do I approach terminating employees during the holidays?
The holiday season is a time for celebration, reconnection, and relaxation with loved ones. It’s also a time when expenses are at their highest and hiring is at its lowest, making it an unfavourable time of year to terminate employees. Unfortunately, it’s still not unheard of, though, with tech giant Meta recently announcing it was laying off 11,000 employees.
While terminating employees during the holiday season should be avoided, there are certain steps you can take as an employer to handle this sensitive issue as humanely as possible. Firstly, give employees as much notice as possible so they have time to plan ahead.
Next, consider allowing employees to work through their notice period or receive pay in lieu of notice. Employers should also aim to conduct the termination in person rather than virtually, offer support such as benefit continuation, and always offer to provide a positive reference for their next position if the employment ended on good terms. And lastly, be mindful of your social media presence and avoid any posts which may include gifts or spending.
What are the different types of terminations in Saskatchewan?
There are two types of terminations:
- Termination without cause, and
- Termination with just cause
What is termination with just cause?
Employers can terminate an employment with just cause when an employee is guilty of a serious act of wilful misconduct/breach of contract (for instance, stealing, assaulting a co-worker, or committing fraud).
While terminating an employee with just cause, employers are not required to provide the employee with termination notice. But they must give them reasons for the termination.
Can an employer fire an employee without cause in Saskatchewan?
Yes. Employers can terminate an employee without cause in Saskatchewan. In case of a termination without cause, employers must provide the employee with notice of termination or pay in-lieu thereof.
How much notice must Saskatchewan employees provide when resigning?
Employees with at least 13 weeks of service with the same employer must give at least two weeks’ written notice. The notice must clearly mention the employee’s last working day with the employer.
What is the minimum notice employers must provide to employees in Saskatchewan?
If an employee has worked for you for more than 13 consecutive weeks, you are required to provide them with written notice of termination or pay instead of notice. The minimum amount of notice or pay instead of notice will vary depending on the employee’s length of employment.
|Length of employment||Notice required|
|More than 13 consecutive weeks but one year or less||One week|
|More than one year but three years or less||Two weeks|
|More than three years but five years or less||Four weeks|
|More than five years but 10 years or less||Six weeks|
|More than 10 years||Eight weeks|
How does pay instead of notice work?
If you do not want an employee to serve their notice period or you don’t provide them notice of termination, you must provide them with pay instead of notice.
Pay instead of notice is the wages the employee would have earned while serving the required notice period.
Please note that if you ask an employee to report to work to give them their termination notice, you are required to pay them reporting for duty pay. Typically, reporting for duty pay is a minimum of three hours at the worker’s regular hourly wage rate.
Is vacation pay payable on pay instead of notice?
Yes. Vacation pay is payable on pay instead of notice.
Within what time period must employers pay departing employees?
Employers must pay terminated employees in full within 14 days of their last working day.
What wages must be paid out by the end of the 14-day period?
The compensation to be paid out includes:
- Regular wages (including banked overtime)
- Public holiday pay and pay for working on a public holiday
- Pay instead of notice (if applicable)
- Overtime pay and vacation pay
In what cases is notice or pay instead of notice not required?
You are not required to provide employees with notice of termination or pay in-lieu if the employee:
- Has less than 13 consecutive weeks of service
- Is being terminated for just cause
- Has resigned. In this case, employees with more than 13 consecutive weeks of service are obligated to provide you with at least two weeks’ written notice.
In what cases are employers prohibited from firing employees?
Employers cannot fire employees for exercising their rights under the Saskatchewan Employment Act (SEA). They are not allowed to terminate an employee for a reason protected under the SEA, such as illness or injury, requesting a leave, requesting accommodation for a disability, filing a complaint, or asking that the employer comply with the SEA, and so on.
Employers are also prohibited from terminating an employee on grounds protected under The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. These include race or perceived race, creed, religion, colour, sex, sexual orientation, family status, marital status, disability, age, nationality, ancestry, place of origin, or receipt of welfare.
You can’t terminate or take discriminatory action against an employee due to illness or injury of the said employee or illness or injury of the employee’s immediate family member who is dependent on the employee.
Employers cannot dismiss employees if they are absent because of a serious illness or injury for up to 12 days in a calendar year or 12 weeks in a period of 52 weeks. This protection applies only if the employee has been employed by the employer for at least 13 weeks.
An exception to this rule would be if the employer has just cause for termination that is not related to the employee’s absence.
Do you need help developing a termination policy for your business?
Our experts can help you develop company policies, and with any other HR, health & safety and staff management matters that may arise. See how we have helped other small and medium businesses get their business compliant with provincial legislation. To learn more about how our services can benefit your business, call an expert today at 1 (833) 312-6706.