What Does Termination Without a Cause Mean in Canada?

Being fired and terminated from a job is never a desirable situation for the employee. Situations like this are when an employee might feel like they were terminated for the wrong reason. However, before you make a wrongful termination claim, there are certain aspects of the law that you should know about.Many people aren’t actually aware that your employer can terminate you without cause. Now, what does “without cause” mean, and why are they even incorporated in Alberta’s laws? The following explains what termination without cause means, along with some useful legal advice for those who experienced this.

Can You Terminate Without Cause in Alberta?

The answer is yes, employees can terminate employees without cause, but several caveats apply. In Alberta, as in the rest of Canada, there are two ways that a company can end your employment:

  1. “With cause,” which applies in cases of serious workplace misconduct
  2. “Without cause,” which applies when your employer terminates you for any other reason.

If you happen to be terminated without cause, it only means that your employer decided to let you go for any reason other than workplace misconduct. You probably did not do anything improper or immoral in the workplace, but there are other valid reasons for your termination, such as:

  • Economic reasons
  • Company restructuring
  • The company no longer requires someone in your position

So, employers are perfectly within their rights to terminate you without cause as long as it is not discriminatory. There are also certain requirements that need to be met, such as providing reasonable notice. This is in accordance with the Alberta Employment Standards Code.

What Is Classified as Reasonable Notice?

Alberta employment law requires companies to provide reasonable notice to employees that are to be terminated without cause. Unless you’ve been working for three months or less, the minimum notice period should be one week, and it increases according to the number of years of service you have worked for the employer.If you’ve been working with the company for at least a decade or more, the minimum notice period goes up and can amount to months.

What If Reasonable Notice Wasn’t Given?

If for some reason, the company cannot provide reasonable notice, the employer must provide payment in lieu of notice, which is often called a “severance package.” However, there are times when a combination of notice and a severance package can be provided, depending on the company. Often, an employer prefers to end the employment immediately and simply pay severance, but this is frequently underpaid due to misunderstanding or ignorance of the laws.

Is Pay Always Required When Terminated?

There are some instances where your employer may not be required to pay a severance package or provide reasonable notice when terminating your employment. Some of the more common circumstances that don’t require severance pay are:

  1. If you were employed for less than three months
  2. If you worked on-call
  3. If you were hired temporarily or on a seasonal basis
  4. If your employment contract has ended
  5. If you refuse to accept reasonable alternative employment

Other more specific circumstances may not require your employer to give notice and severance pay. In fact, some industries have different regulations regarding this topic.


If you have been terminated without cause, it’s best to know how Alberta’s employment law works and how you can proceed with your termination. These laws are in place to protect people from being fired and left without any means of supporting themselves. However, if you feel like you were wrongfully terminated or dismissed, then you should seek legal advice from a lawyer.Prowse Chowne is a respected name in all levels of court, tribunals, and commercial institutions when it comes to delivering quality legal services. We are also a trusted name in the community as a firm that holds true to our values. If you ever need a litigation attorney in Alberta, Prowse Chowne is here to help. Contact us today to book a consultation.