When an Employee Ends the Employment : NS Labour and Advanced Education, Employment Rights

When the Employee Ends the Employment


Employees normally must give their employers written notice that they are quitting their jobs. "Notice" in this case is the amount of time between when the employee tells the employer in writing that they are leaving their job and the time the employee actually leaves.

How much written notice an employee must give depends on how long he/she has worked for the same employer.

An employee must give:

  • one week’s written notice if he/she has a period of employment three months or more but less than two years
  • two weeks’ written notice if he/she has a period of employment of two years or more


Duty of the Employer When Notice Is Given

When an employee has given the employer proper notice that he/she is quitting, the employer:
  • may not change the employee’s rate of pay or any other condition of employment, such as hours of work or benefits
  • must pay the employee all the wages they are entitled to receive (within 5 working days after the end of the pay period in which the final wages were earned)
  • must pay accumulated vacation pay within 10 days after the employment ends


Periods of Employment

An employee’s have been broken because the employee was laid off, suspended, or fired.

This is important to know if the employee is about to resign and must decide whether to give their employer one or two weeks’ notice. The Labour Standards Code states that an employee’s period of employment is considered unbroken unless it is broken:

  • by 12 months or more of layoff or suspension 
  • by more than 13 weeks that resulted from the employer firing the employee

Also, if an employee quits and is rehired, their period of employment is broken, and they start a new period of employment based on their rehire date.


When an Employee Does Not Need to Give Notice

Just as an employer sometimes does not always need to give an employee notice their employment is ending, there are also times when employees do not need to give notice. These are:

  • when the employee has been employed less than three months
  • when the employer breaks the terms and conditions of employment (for example, the employer fails to pay the employee wages or reduces the employee's rate of pay or hours of work)


When an Employee Does Not Give Notice

When an employee quits without notice, the employer may file a complaint with the Labour Standards Division and claim any pay owed to the employee. The maximum amount the employer may receive is the amount of pay the employee would earn in the notice period. For example, if an employee must give the employer one week's written notice, but quits without notice, then the employer may make a claim on unpaid wages equal to one week's pay.

To claim the employee's unpaid wages the employer must be able to show that they lost money or had extra costs because of the employee quitting without notice. As an example, an employer may be able to claim the cost of paying employees overtime to finish work the employee would have completed if they had not quit abruptly.


Employees Not Covered by the Rules

The rules about employees giving notice of quitting their jobs do not apply for the following employees:

  • employees employed in the construction industry (doing onsite work). For example, this rule would not apply to an employee operating an excavator at the worksite but would apply to an administrative assistant working in the office
  • real estate and automobile salespersons
  • commissioned salespersons who work outside the employer's place of business, except those on established routes
  • employees who work on a fishing boat
  • athletes while engaged in activities related to their athletic endeavour
  • employees who work under a collective agreement
  • employees who do domestic service for or give personal care to an immediate family member in a private home and are working for the householder (foreign worker protections do apply to this group)
  • employees who do domestic service for or give personal care in a private home and are working for the householder for 24 hours or less per week (foreign worker protections do apply to this group)