Terminating foreign workers on work permits (Legal view)

Foreign workers are entitled to the same termination rights as domestic employees, but there are other considerations
By Evelyn Ackah
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/17/2009

During times of economic growth, employers have actively recruited foreign workers to assume temporary or permanent employment in Canada. However, many employers are now faced with the unfortunate task of cutting costs and reducing personnel as the economy worsens. While employer obligations with respect to the dismissal of Canadian employees are well-established, what are the obligations imposed on employers that have recruited and relocated foreign workers to Canada?

Every province has legislation that governs the termination process and ensures human rights are protected. In Alberta, for example, the Employment Standards Code governs the relationship between employers and employees, including temporary foreign workers. Employers that dismiss foreign workers must abide by the same notice provisions applicable to Canadian workers. Alberta employers must also abide by the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating against any employee.

When dismissing foreign workers, employers must abide by employment legislation and provide adequate notice or payment in lieu of notice. When a temporary foreign worker is dismissed by a Canadian employer, he is eligible to remain in the country until his work permit expires. However, the foreign worker cannot work for another Canadian employer without first obtaining a new work permit — either by way of Labour Market Opinion (LMO) approval from Service Canada or an exemption category under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.