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What Constitutes a Valid Resignation by Law in Alberta?

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Both sides of the employment/employer line have legal responsibilities to each other when parting ways. Just as an employer should be liable for a wrongful termination lawsuit if they do not provide an employee with proper reasoning for termination, an employee has an obligation to their employment in the form of a proper resignation.

While wrongful resignation is not a situation that occurs very often, and legal action is uncommon on these grounds, an employer may have every right to sue. If you are considering quitting your job, don’t risk the chance that you may damage your reputation with an improper resignation. Learn the steps to leave the work properly and legally protected.

What is Required for a Proper Resignation in Alberta?

A legal resignation will upstand scrutiny in Alberta if it has two components performed properly: it is written, and ‘reasonable’ notice is given. The written portion of the equation is pretty straightforward. However, what constitutes ‘reasonable notice?’

The amount of time considered ‘reasonable’ is difficult to quantify. It can be based on several determining elements, including position, pay, how long you may take to replace, and how long you’ve held the position. If not stated directly in your employment contract, it defaults to the standards laid bare in Alberta’s Employment Standards Code, which states that an employee gives an employer a written resignation of a minimum of one week. However, if an employee has held the position for longer than two years, that minimum notice time increases to two weeks.

What are the Exceptions to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code?

If any of the following applies, an employee could have a reasonable argument as to why they did not follow the minimum resignation notice guidelines as written in the Employment Standards Code:

  • If they have been employed for less than 91 days
  • If they have been temporarily laid off or without work due to a strike or lockout
  • If they are resigning for personal health and safety reasons
  • If there is an established practice to give less resignation notice in that industry
  • If the employee is resigning because the employer has denied their legal rights
  • If the job has become impossible to perform due to reasons beyond the employee’s control

What Are My Legal Rights After Resignation?

After a resignation, events may transpire that may make some uncomfortable deciding whether or not they have to be included. The legal requirements can be confusing to some and may need clearing up:

An employer may request that a resigned employee submits to an exit interview to inquire about how the employer may have provided a better experience for that employee or how they may improve. An employee is not legally required to partake in an exit interview.

An employee may hope that, after their resignation, a former employer may give a positive reference to future employers. Past employers are not legally required to provide any reference, positive or negative.

If an employer and employee have a heated disagreement, during which the employee resigns hurriedly, courts have occasionally granted a ‘cooling-off’ period of several days. After this period, a resignation could be reversed, even if formally accepted by the employer. However, this decision is not a guaranteed legal stance and may not apply to every situation.

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