Probationary Periods: How Long Is Too Long?

Last week, we posted about the usefulness of probationary periods, both for unionized and non-unionized workers.

In each Canadian jurisdiction, there are rules under employment standards legislation regarding the period of employment during which a non-unionized employee can be dismissed without cause and without notice or pay in lieu of notice. If the probationary period in an employment agreement allows for termination of employment on this basis, then the probationary period should be limited to the following statutory periods:

  • Alberta: 90 days
  • British Columbia: 3 months
  • Manitoba: 30 days
  • New Brunswick: 6 months
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 3 months
  • Northwest Territories: 90 days
  • Nova Scotia: 3 months
  • Nunavut: 90 days
  • Ontario: 3 months
  • Prince Edward Island: 6 months
  • Québec: 3 months
  • Saskatchewan: 13 weeks
  • Yukon: 6 months
  • Federal: 3 months

(These statutory periods are as of June 1, 2018; note that they may be amended by the legislatures from time to time.)

Employers with employees in multiple jurisdictions should ensure that the probationary periods in employment agreements comply with the legislation in each province or territory in which they operate.

All members of our Labour, Employment & Human Rights Group at Lawson Lundell LLP have extensive experience in drafting employment agreements and would be happy to assist your business with any questions you may have regarding probationary periods or termination clauses.


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Lawson Lundell's Labour and Employment Law Blog provides updates on the most recent legal developments impacting the Canadian workplace and offers practical tips for employers. We cover a range of topics, including labour relations, employment law, collective bargaining, human rights, employment standards, employment equity, workers' compensation, business immigration, privacy, occupational health and safety and pensions and employee benefits. 

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