How to Deal with Employee Resignations in Ontario: A Guide for Employers

  • End of Employment
Kiljon Shukullari

Kiljon Shukullari, HR Advisory Manager

(Last updated )

Resignations are a natural part of the employment cycle. Although sometimes inevitable, it can still be frustrating and stressful for all those involved if handled poorly. When it comes to employee resignation in Ontario, employers have an obligation to ensure the process complies with provincial laws and guidelines.

From receiving resignation letters to understanding reasonable notice periods, here are some of the things employers should keep in mind about employee resignation in Ontario:

Employee’s notice of resignation in Ontario

Under Ontario's Employment Standards Act (ESA), employees are required to provide their employers with reasonable notice of resignation in writing at least one week in advance. However, certain employment contracts may stipulate longer notice periods. 

A resignation letter isn’t just a formality; it holds legal and practical significance for employers and protects them from unemployment claims and other future disputes.

The importance of a resignation letter

Here are some of the reasons why you need a resignation letter: 

Clarity of intent and confirmation

A written resignation eliminates any misunderstandings or miscommunications of the employee’s intention to resign and establishes the effective date of their departure. 

Legal compliance

In Ontario, labour laws require written notice of resignation from employees. A resignation letter ensures legal compliance and can help protect the rights of both employer and employee. 

Record keeping

Written resignations serve as essential records for HR and administrative purposes. It helps initiate procedures such as finalizing compensation, returning company property, conducting exit interviews, and any specific terms discussed during the resignation process.

Protection against disputes

A resignation letter can serve as evidence in case of disputes over the terms of departure, notice period, or other related matters. It can help resolve disagreements and prevent potential legal issues down the line.

Need help dealing with an employee’s resignation in Ontario?

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Employee resignation notice period in Ontario

Employees are obligated to provide reasonable notice of resignation to employers. Typically, they’re expected to give one week’s notice, but some employment contracts may specify longer notice periods. 

Under the ESA, employees should provide employers:

  • One-week's notice: If his or her period of employment is less than two years.
  • Two-week's notice: If his or her period of employment is over two years. 

Steps to take after the resignation

Here are some of the steps an employer can take after an employee resigns:

  1. Accept the resignation: Acknowledge the employee's resignation in writing and confirm the last working day and any necessary exit procedures.
  2. Review employment agreement: Check the employment contract for any clauses regarding notice periods, post-resignation obligations, and non-compete agreements.
  3. Finalize compensation: Ensure all outstanding payments, including salary, benefits, and vacation pay, are settled according to ESA guidelines.
  4. Collect company property: Request the return of company items such as laptops, access cards, and other materials.
  5. Exit Interviews: Offer the employee the opportunity for an exit interview to gain insights into their reasons for leaving and get feedback on improvements for the business. 

Notifying other employees about the resignation

An employee’s resignation can impact your business’s workflow and project timelines. To prevent any unnecessary disruptions, you should inform your team about an employee’s departure, provide their co-workers and clients with the necessary context and reassign responsibilities accordingly. 

Employers can take the following steps to communicate an employee’s resignation:

Announce the departure

Inform the team about the employee's departure in a professional and respectful manner. Keep your team in the loop about major changes to maintain transparency but avoid disclosing sensitive details.

Reassign workloads and responsibilities

Determine how the departing employee's responsibilities will be redistributed to maintain workflow continuity. Adjust your team’s expectations and workloads and provide a timeline for replacing the employee.

Address questions and concerns

When employees see their colleagues leaving without understanding the reasons, it can affect morale and create anxiety and uncertainty about the stability of the organization. You can help alleviate these concerns by addressing questions from the remaining team members. 

Other things to consider

An employee’s resignation can generate many challenges for their employer, especially when it’s a highly valued member of the team. Besides following provincial guidelines and complying with legal obligations, you can also consider doing the following to ensure a smooth transitional period: 

  • Confidentiality: Respect the departing employee's privacy and maintain confidentiality throughout the resignation process.
  • Knowledge transfer: Implement processes, training, and measures to help transfer knowledge between the departing employee and their colleagues to prevent work disruption.
  • Promote a supportive atmosphere: Communicate with your team about their colleague’s departure and give them a chance to offer well wishes and support. This will foster a sense of camaraderie in the workplace and preserve morale.
  • Legal consultation: If you have concerns about contract clauses, notice periods, or legal matters, don’t hesitate to seek out legal counsel to help you stay compliant with employment laws.

Do you need help dealing with an employee’s resignation?

Peninsula Canada is here to help you navigate a difficult resignation process. Our experienced HR experts can provide guidance on resignation procedures, legal obligations, and best practices. Whether you need assistance with documentation, notice periods, or implementing new policies, we've got you covered. 

Our HR professionals can help you with a seamless transition and maintain a positive workplace culture. Contact us today at 1 (833) 247-3652.

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