What is a termination without cause in British Columbia?

Termination (or dismissal) without cause in British Columbia refers to the situation where an employee is let go or fired from their job for reasons that are not related to serious misconduct.

An employer does not need a good or fair reason to end the employment relationship with an employee. A company can let an employee go without cause at any time, as long as the employee is provided with full severance pay, and the reason for termination isn’t discriminatory (based on age, gender, race or disability).

Watch the video below from the Employment Law Show and read on to learn more about dismissal without cause and your rights in British Columbia.



Can you fire someone without cause in B.C.?

Yes, an employer can legally fire an employee without cause in British Columbia, so long as the company gives the employee enough notice of the termination, proper severance pay, or a combination of the two.

Employees can’t be fired for discriminatory reasons, as it would be considered a human rights violation.


Here are a few examples of a termination without cause:

  • Business Restructuring: The company might be going through organizational changes, leading to some roles becoming redundant.
  • Economic Downturn: Due to economic challenges, the company may need to downsize its workforce to cut costs.
  • Skill Mismatch: The employer might feel that the employee’s skills do not align with the company’s current needs, despite the absence of any misconduct.
  • Change in Business Direction: The employer might decide to head in a new direction that doesn’t require the employee’s current position.
  • Poor Job Fit: The employer might feel that, despite the employee’s best efforts, the role is not a good fit for them.
  • Late For Work: The company can fire the employee for showing up to work late, even if it occurs just once.

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Can my employer fire me without warning?

Yes, your employer can fire you without warning, and for any reason in British Columbia.

As long as non-unionized employees are provided with working notice or a complete severance package, companies ultimately have the right to determine which workers it wants to hire or let go.

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What is the difference between termination “without cause” and “for cause?”

In British Columbia, termination “without cause” generally refers to situations where an employee is let go due to reasons unrelated to misconduct, such as business restructuring or downsizing. On the other hand, termination “for cause” occurs when an employee is dismissed due to serious misconduct such as theft or harassment. In these cases, employers are not typically required to provide severance pay, but they must be able to prove the misconduct that led to the firing.

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Constructive dismissal and termination without cause

Termination without cause and constructive dismissal in British Columbia both refer to situations where no severe employee misconduct is involved.

In termination without cause, employment ends directly by the employer, with proper notice or severance pay. Constructive dismissal occurs when significant job changes by the employer force an employee to resign. Both terminations entitle employees to a severance package.

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How much severance pay do I get if I’m fired without cause?

In British Columbia, the amount of severance pay you might receive after being terminated without cause can vary based on several factors, such as the length of employment, employee age, and type of job.

The minimum amount of severance pay you are entitled to could be one week’s pay up to 8 weeks. This is guaranteed by British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act (ESA).

However, what you are legally owed can be as much as 24 months’ (two years) pay. This is determined by our courts, or ‘common law’.

Severance pay is calculated by considering an employee’s age, position, and length of employment. Other factors that affect the amount you’re owed by your employer include commission, bonuses, vacation pay, overtime pay, pension, and the availability of similar employment.

You can use the free and anonymous Severance Pay Calculator to estimate approximately how much severance you might be owed.

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Can my employment contract affect my severance pay?

Yes, your employment contract can impact the amount of severance pay you receive after losing you job without cause in British Columbia.

Employment contracts often outline the terms and conditions for aspects like termination and severance, and they might reduce or restrict your rights. However, for these terms to be valid, they must be properly structured and worded, ensuring they meet or exceed the minimum requirements established by the ESA. Many agreements are not properly worded, rendering them unenforceable.

An employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP can thoroughly review your employment contract, determine what your rights are, and provide guidance on how the contract influences the severance pay you receive after losing your job.

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Do I have to sign a severance offer by my employer’s deadline?

No, you do not have to sign a severance offer by your employer’s deadline in British Columbia. Employers often set deadlines as pressure tactics, aiming to push employees into accepting severance packages before fully understanding their rights.

During a termination meeting, employers might present a severance offer, pressuring employees to sign quickly by setting a limited timeframe, but remember, your entitlement to a severance package doesn’t expire at the employer’s imposed deadline. You have up to two years from the termination date to claim your full severance – as much as 24 month’s pay.

Employers can’t force acceptance of a severance package. You are entitled to have the offer reviewed by an employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP to ensure it meets your full entitlements. If you sign off on a severance package before we have a chance to review it, you will likely forfeit your right to review and pursue your options.

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Should I go to the Ministry of Labour if I’m fired without cause?

No, you should not go to B.C.’s Employment Standards Branch if you are let go without cause. Employment Standards can only help you get your minimum entitlements to severance under the ESA, which could be a few weeks at most.

A B.C. employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP can help you pursue your full entitlements, potentially receiving up to 24 months’ pay. This could translate to tens of thousands of dollars more than what the government might secure.

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Wrongful dismissal and termination without cause in B.C.

If you’re terminated without cause in B.C. and not provided a proper severance package, you can file a wrongful dismissal claim against your employer. With the expertise of an experienced employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, the entire process will be managed seamlessly, minimizing your stress.

Wrongful dismissal claims are often negotiated promptly and can typically be settled in a few weeks to a couple of months. Our firm, having handled thousands of wrongful dismissal claims, has secured some of Canada’s largest severance packages, ensuring quick resolutions and maximum compensation for your situation.

Reach out to our team today for a consultation, and discover how we can support and guide you through this challenging time.

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Can I get EI if I’m terminated without cause?

Yes, an employee who is terminated without cause is entitled to receive Employment Insurance (EI). However, employees can’t receive severance pay and EI at the same time. Once your notice or severance period has expired, you can then apply and receive EI benefits.

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I was unfairly fired. What are my options?

If you feel you’ve been unfairly let go from your job in British Columbia, denied rightful severance, or subjected to discrimination, it’s essential to consult with an employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP without delay. Our team, comprised of experienced employment lawyers, will carefully review your case, inform you of your rights and options, and guide you through the necessary next steps.

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Let go from your job?

Talk to an experienced employment lawyer if you have been terminated or need a severance package review.

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More About Terminations in Canada

Explore some of our past blogs and episodes from the Employment Law Show related to terminations in B.C., Alberta and Ontario.

Pocket Employment Lawyer

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Severance Pay Calculator

Accurate. Anonymous. Free. Find out how much severance you are owed in B.C., Alberta or Ontario.

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Employment Law November 18th, 2016

Termination Negotiations: Don’t Give In to Pressure

By Lior Samfiru

Employees feel pressured by their employer to sign documents during termination negotiations. Find out why you should not give in by reading…

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View Blog


Employment Law August 12th, 2016

Common Misconceptions About Severance Pay

By Lior Samfiru

This article helps clear-up some of the most common misunderstandings that terminated employees have about their entitlements and severance pay.

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Boasting Canada’s foremost team of employment lawyers dedicated to representing employees, our firm has successfully empowered tens of thousands to secure their full entitlements and compensation.

We can help non-unionized employees facing workplace issues or job loss in B.C., Alberta, or Ontario

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I was terminated without cause, and I consulted with a few other law firms before choosing Samfiru Tumarkin LLP. I would like to thank Gurlal Kler and his legal assistant Suzana Serrano for all the work they have done for me. The legal fee was very fair, and I highly recommend this law firm.
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