Amendments to the Canada Labour Code

Impacting federally regulated employers, including First Nations and other entities within or associated with First Nations, the Canadian Labour Code (the Code) has been amended to require longer termination notice and a written benefit statement for individual employees.

As of February 1, 2024, amendments to the Code require federally regulated employers to:

(1) increase the amount of termination notice provided to individual employees; and

(2) provide a written statement of benefits to employees on dismissal.

These amendments do not alter the notice period for group terminations.

Indigenous employers

First Nations' Band Councils and Indigenous self-governments are generally considered federal employers. For help in determining jurisdiction of Indigenous organizations, employers can refer to the Guide on jurisdiction of Indigenous organizations.

Increased entitlements on termination of employment

Federally regulated employers must now provide employees who have worked for at least three continuous months with increased working notice or wages in lieu of notice on dismissal, unless it is for just cause.

Employees with at least three consecutive months of employment are entitled to prior written notice, wages in lieu of notice, or a combination of the two, in accordance with the following:

Continuous period of employment Termination notice as of February 1, 2024
Three months Two weeks
Three years Three weeks
Four years Four weeks
Five years Five weeks
Six years Six weeks
Seven years Seven weeks
Eight years or more Eight weeks

Employers are still required to provide severance pay pursuant to section 235 of the Code, which is in addition to termination notice.

Written statement of benefits

Federally regulated employers must provide employees with a written statement of benefits upon dismissal. This must contain detailed information on the employees accrued vacation benefits, wages, severance pay, and details on any other benefits and pay earned through their employment up to the date of the statement of benefits. Employers must provide the statement of benefits within specified time periods.

Implications for First Nation employers

First Nations' employment matters are generally under federal jurisdiction and, if so, the new amendments of the Code apply.

To ensure compliance with the new amendments, some of the steps that may be practical for organizations to undertake include ensuring that the following documents provide the applicable minimum amount of notice and written statement of benefits:

  • Employment agreements (for current and prospective employees)
  • Offer letters
  • Termination letters
  • Policies and procedures

It is also important for human resources and managerial staff to be aware of these requirements to ensure compliance. Failure to amend the above documents may render the entire document legally unenforceable, requiring the employer to provide common law reasonable notice.

While the amendments are likely to increase the cost of dismissing employees, compliance is mandatory for applicable employers.

If you are not sure whether this amendment to the Code applies to your organization, or you need help updating your organization's current documentation to comply with the recent amendments, MLT Aikins Labour & Employment and Indigenous practice groups have extensive experience navigating these requirements and would be happy to assist.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.