Skip to main content
Wrongful Dismissal

Navigating Wrongful Dismissal Laws in BC

Employers wield a considerable amount of power when it comes to terminations. However, that doesn’t mean they are without constraints. The Employment Standards Act and the Human Rights Code offer boundaries within which employers must work when issuing terminations, delivering notices, and calculating severance pay. If you feel you have been the victim of wrongful dismissal or haven’t received proper compensation after your termination, it’s important to understand how your rights as an employee are protected under these two BC labour laws.

Employment Standards Act

The Employment Standards Act was written to protect full-time, part-time, and casual workers. Part 8 of the Act establishes regulations regarding employment termination, including when severance pay is mandated and how much should be paid by the employer.

When Employers Are Liable to Pay Wages

Eligibility for severance pay begins for terminated employees who have worked consecutively for at least three months. Employees who meet this condition receive a week’s worth of wages upon termination. At 12 months of consecutive employment, terminated employees will receive two weeks’ wages. For those who have worked three years consecutively, three weeks’ wages are due along with an additional week of wages for each year of employment, up to a maximum of eight weeks.

When Employers Are Not Liable to Pay Wages

Employers do not owe severance pay to employees in all cases. When appropriate written notice of termination is provided, severance pay is not mandated. For employees who worked three consecutive months, one week of written notice is required. Those who worked 12 consecutive months must receive 2 weeks’ notice. Three weeks of notice plus an additional week for each year of employment up to eight weeks is necessary for employees who worked three years consecutively. Furthermore, employees are not granted severance pay in situations where they choose to terminate their own employment, retire, or are fired by their employer for just cause.

Please keep in mind that the Employment Standards Act severance pay requirements are the minimum severance that is required by law. Most employees who are terminated are entitled to far more generous severance pay.

Calculating Severance Wages

Employers are liable to pay severance by totalling an employee’s wages at their regular rate during the last eight weeks of employment. This total is then divided by eight and multiplied by the resulting number of weeks that the employer is mandated to pay.

Human Rights Code

The Human Rights Code offers protection from discrimination and harassment, including situations regarding employment. Under Section 13, an employer cannot refuse to hire or continue to employ an individual based on:

  • Indigenous identity
  • Race
  • Colour
  • Ancestry
  • Place of origin
  • Political belief
  • Religion
  • Marital status
  • Family status
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity or expression

Those convicted of criminal or summary conviction offences are also protected under this law so long as their crimes are unrelated to the employment or intended employment.