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Definitions: Reasonable Notice

In a non-unionized employment relationship, it is implied that the employer has the right to terminate the employment contract without cause by providing reasonable notice of the dismissal.1

An employee’s right to reasonable notice of dismissal is primarily intended to provide the employee with a fair opportunity to locate new employment and arrange their affairs before their existing employment comes to an end.2

The amount of notice that an employer is required to provide – reasonable notice – depends on relevant factors such as the employee’s age, job, and length of service, and the availability of similar employment.3

To determine how much notice an employee should be given, courts compare against similar cases that have gone to court in the past to determine what is ‘reasonable’:4

There can be no catalogue laid down as to what is reasonable notice in particular classes of cases. The reasonableness of the notice must be decided with reference to each particular case, having regard to the character of the employment, the length of service of the servant, the age of the servant and the availability of similar employment, having regard to the experience, training and qualifications of the servant.

An employee is not entitled always entitled to reasonable notice of dismissal. For example, an employee is not entitled to reasonable notice of dismissal if:

  1. The employer has just cause to dismiss the employee; or
  2. There is an enforceable employment contract with a termination clause that allows the employer to terminate the contract on shorter notice.

Notice periods awarded in recent British Columbia wrongful dismissal decisions can be viewed in the Reasonable Notice Period Chart.

  1. Honda Canada Inc. v. Keays, 2008 SCC 39 []
  2. Evans v. Teamsters Local Union No. 31, 2008 SCC 20 []
  3. Bardal v. Globe & Mail Ltd., 1960 CanLII 294 (ON SC) []
  4. Ostrow v. Abacus Management Corporation Mergers and Acquisitions, 2014 BCSC 938 []