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My employer says I'm suspended without pay. What does this mean?

Question
My employer says I'm suspended without pay. What does this mean?

Glossary

Clear language definitions to common legal terms. 

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Reviewed: 
September, 2015
Answer

Sometimes employers stop people from working for a while or reduce their hours by:

  • sending them home from work early
  • telling them not to come to work for a period of time
  • not scheduling them for shifts or giving them hours of work

You lose money because you're not working. Employers call this "suspending" you without pay.

Some collective agreements and employment agreements give employers the right to suspend workers without pay in some cases. But if you don't have an agreement that says your employer can do this, a suspension without pay is like being fired.

Reasons employers suspend workers

Your employer might send you home early or tell you not to come to work for a while because of something they say you did. For example, they might say you made a mistake that cost them money or you caused problems at work.

Your employer might do this so they can fire you later without giving you the notice of termination that the law says you should get. They might suspend you so they can say they warned you and gave you a chance to correct the problem.

Suspended for asking about your rights

The law says your employer can't punish you for asking about your rights or asking them to respect your rights. For example, you might ask your employer about:

  • paying you wages they owe you
  • taking vacation time they owe you

Deciding what to do if you're suspended

If you want to keep your job, there may not be anything you can do about the suspension.

If you're willing to leave your job, you may be able to treat the suspension the same as being fired.

But if you do this and your employer had a good reason to fire you, you might not have a right to notice of termination.

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