Pregnancy Can Extend an Employee’s Reasonable Notice Period

Written by on April 12, 2021 in Employment Law Blog, Focus on Canadian Cases

By Tejpreet (Tanya) Sambi

In a recent Ontario Superior Court decision, Nahum v. Honeycomb Hospitality Inc., 2021 ONSC 1455, a short term employee’s notice period was extended due to her pregnancy, from 2 months to 5 months.

The employee was Director of People and Culture at Honeycomb Hospitality Inc. She was 28 years old, had only worked for the company for 4.5 months and was 5 months pregnant at the time of her termination without cause.

The Employer argued that given the employee’s age and length of service, being only 4.5 months, her notice period should only be 2 months. The employee, of course, argued that her notice period should be extended due to her pregnancy at the time of dismissal.

The Court noted that pregnancy at the date of dismissal should not automatically lengthen the notice period because pregnancy may not always impede a job search and like all factors relevant to the notice period, pregnancy should factor into the reasonable notice period if it is reasonably likely to negatively impact an employee’s ability to find alternative employment.

The Court ultimately found that in this case, the employee’s pregnancy was likely to impact her ability to find a new job and awarded her a notice period of 5 months.

A key takeaway from this case is that an employee who is pregnant at the date of dismissal may be entitled to a lengthier notice period, even if they are a short service employee.

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Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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