[Ask HR] Resigning With a Lot of Notice – Would the Employer Have To Pay Me if They Asked to Leave Sooner?

Ask HR is a series of online articles consisting of answers to most commonly asked questions by Business Owners, Executives, Internal HR Teams, Managers, Job Seekers and HR Students.  For more information on the format, Ask HR Series and how to submit your questions, please follow this link: Ask HR

This week’s question came in from an employee exploring his resignation options.  It’s mid-November, and this employee wants to give a 2.5 months resignation notice. Both employer and employee are based in Ontario.

I want my resignation to be February 1.  If I hand in my resignation now, can my employer tell me just to leave? And if so do they have to pay me until Feb 1st?

Assuming there is nothing in your contract that speaks to this, the short answer is that your employer can – in fact – tell you to leave immediately.  If they choose to do that, they will have to pay the lesser of (a) termination pay under law which is determined by your length of service or (b) your resignation notice.  An example may help clarify:

Let’s say you’ve worked at the company for 4 years and gave 8 weeks notice of resignation. If the company did not want you to continue working (and note that it is their choice on this), they have two amounts to look at.  Your termination pay would be 4 weeks (that is what you get in Ontario after 4 years and before 5 years) and your resignation notice is 8 weeks.  The lesser amount is 4 weeks so they would pay you that amount and you wouldn’t work another day.

It’s always great to give employers a lot of notice when you can – this allows them to plan and staff better.  However, you shouldn’t assume that they will want you to stay and you should consider your personal financial situation and the risks of you giving more than the typical ‘two weeks’.  If you had counted on income to February 1st, you should realize that this may not happen.  You also need to consider the environment you work in.

Regardless of the company’s legal obligations to you, will your resignation be taken ‘well’? Do you want to prolong any tension or perhaps burn some bridges by giving a lot of notice?  On the other hand, and in some environments, a lot of notice can be truly appreciated by employers (who often are left in the lurch when someone leaves without notice) and they may sing your praises especially loud.

So you’ll want to consider the environment you work in and your own personal circumstances when giving a prolonged amount of notice.  It’s one of those issues where your intentions will not necessarily achieve the desired result.

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