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 they have worked for the same employer.

An employee must give:

  • one week’s written notice if they have a period of employment three months or more but less than two years
  • two weeks’ written notice if they have 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 they are 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 providing notice required by the Code, the employer may file a complaint with the Labour Standards Division and claim pay owed to the employee.  If the employer can show they experienced a financial loss or hardship because the employee quit without proper notice, Labour Standards might find the employer is entitled to keep all, or a portion of, pay owed to the employee.  As an example, an employer may be able to claim an employee’s final pay to compensate the employer for the cost of paying other workers overtime pay to finish work the employee would have completed if the employee had not quit without notice.

In situations where the Code does not require an employee to give notice, such as when an employer breaches an employee’s terms and conditions of employment, there is no basis under the Code for an employer to pursue compensation for any financial cost or hardship experienced by the employer because of an employee’s abrupt quit.


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)


If an employee works on and off for an employer over a period of time how is the employee's period of employment calculated?

An employee's period of employment runs from the time the employee is hired to the time the employee's job ends and it includes any periods where the employee is laid off or suspended for less than twelve consecutive months. If there was a break in the employee's employment because the employee was fired, provided the break was 13 weeks or less, the employee's period of employment would continue to run from the date the employee was originally hired. If the break was more than 13 weeks long (or the employee quit), the employee's new period of employment would start from the date they were re-hired.

Are there other circumstances where an employee does not have to provide their employer with notice?

If an employer breaks the terms and conditions of employment, the employee is not required to give notice. For example, if an employer fails to pay an employee's wages, the employee can quit without notice.