Do Seasonal Workers Get Severance Pay When They Are Terminated

Do Seasonal Workers Get Severance Pay When They Are Terminated?


Seasonal workers are employees who perform their duties for defined annual periods of less than 12 months or “seasons”. The period outside the define period of a seasonal job is consider the “off-season”. Employers usually recall the same seasonal workers annually to perform the same duties, at around the same time of year, and for the same duration. Employers can fire seasonal workers at any time without cause like any other employee. If this describes your situation, you might be wondering how much severance pay your employer owes you, if any. You might also be curious about what you should do when you’re fired.


You’ll find answers to those questions and maybe some you didn’t know you had below. Further, you’ll find out how an experience employment lawyer can help you maximize your severance pay.


What is Severance Pay?


Severance pay refers generally to an employee’s legal entitlements when they are terminate without cause. It can include entitlements under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 and the common law.


The ESA outlines what an employer owes most employees upon termination. This can include statutory termination pay of up to 8 weeks and statutory severance pay of up to 26 weeks if an employee qualifies for it.


If there is no enforceable termination clause in an employee’s employment agreement, the employer may owe the terminated employee common law reasonable notice. A court would consider the employee’s unique factors and circumstances to determine how much common law notice or pay in lieu of that notice an employer owes the employee. Awards for common law severance include minimum ESA entitlements and can get as high as 26 months in total.


When Do Employers Owe Seasonal Workers Severance Pay?


Like other employees, if your employer terminates your seasonal employment at any time without cause, they owe you severance pay. How an employer can terminate a seasonal employee is not too different from a non-seasonal employee.


The termination can be formal and in writing, explicitly firing you from your seasonal role. A seasonal worker’s termination can result from circumstances including but not limit to:


  • layoff during the seasonal work period exceeding 13 weeks in any consecutive 20-week period;


  • constructive dismissal base on changes to your changes to your position duties, hours or other terms of your seasonal employment without your consent, or because of workplace bullying and harassment; or


  • the employer exercising their right not to recall the seasonal employee for the next seasonal work period, bringing the employment relationship with that employer to an end.


However, just because you are entitle to severance pay does not mean it is calculate the same way as non-seasonal employees. Employers usually owe seasonal employees less severance pay in total than non-seasonal employees for reasons explain below.


How Is Severance Pay Calculated for Seasonal Workers?


Under the ESA, seasonal workers are consider employees for a define term and therefore not entitled to statutory termination pay. However, there are scenarios where this exception may not apply to seasonal employees depending entirely on their unique circumstances.


Employers still owe seasonal workers statutory severance pay if the employee has work a total of at least 5 years for a specific employer, and the employer’s global employee payroll is at least $2.5 million annually. Employers must pay qualifying seasonal workers 1 week in regular wages per year of service up to a maximum 26 weeks for statutory severance pay.


Every year that an employee returns to a seasonal role for an employer, their period of seasonal work counts towards qualifying them for and calculating their statutory severance pay.


For example, if you perform a recurring seasonal job for 6 months over 10 years. But,  you would have work for that employer for a total of 60 months or 5 years. If your employer has a global employee payroll of $2.5 million annually and terminates you in this scenario, you’re entitle to 5 weeks’ statutory severance pay.

Law reasonable notice


In Ontario, seasonal workers are less frequently entitled to common law reasonable notice. When courts do award seasonal employees common law notice. Certainly,  it is for lower amounts than non-seasonal employees with other factors like employee age, compensation and job title being similar.


For example, a seasonal worker who was recall to a position for 15 years. Likewise, Could get 6 months of reasonable notice representing a season’s worth of pay they lost from their termination. In contrast, a non-seasonal worker working indefinitely for an employer for 15 years would be award 15 months of common law notice with other similar factors.


After reading all this, you might be more concern about what you should do when you’re terminate from your seasonal job. Should you sign whatever your employer present you and move on? When should you talk to a lawyer, if ever? The step-by-step guide below should give you some clarity and peace of mind.


What To Do When You’re Fired from Seasonal Work


Terminations can be stressful.Meanwhile,  you should always do everything you can to organize and inform yourself about your legal entitlements. Then you can hire an employment lawyer to help you maximize your severance by negotiating with or suing your employer.


If your employer terminated you from your seasonal position, you should:


  1. Politely refuse to sign any documents your employer provides you until you seek legal advice.


  1. Gather and organize all your documents, including any Records of Employment, Tax Statements, Pay Stubs and Employment Contracts.


  1. Consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to find out what severance you’re entitle to and what the best next steps are.


  1. Retain a lawyer to help you negotiate or sue for your severance pay.

You should not assume you’re entitle to nothing – every case turns on its own facts. Only an experience employment lawyer can provide fine-tailore legal advice base on your unique circumstances. Make persuasive legal arguments to maximize your severance pay.




In Ontario, employers owe employees their minimum ESA entitlements and possibly common law notice upon terminating them. Seasonal employees are no exception, but they typically receive less in severance pay in total than non-seasonal employees.


When you’re terminate you should not sign anything your employer provides you, get organize. Certainly, consult with a lawyer to determine the best next steps. Our experience employment and litigation lawyers at Achkar Law can provide you the guidance. You need and get you the severance pay you deserve.


Contact Us

Whether you are an employer or a seasonal employee needing assistance with a termination without cause and wrongful dismissal. Our team of experience employment and human rights lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at +1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected] and we will be happy to assist.


If you are a small or medium-size company looking for full-service support with same day response, visit our CLO Program page for our strategic solutions.


Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to serve as or should be construed as legal advice and is only to provide general information. It is in no way particular to your case and should not be relied on in any way. No portion or use of this blog will establish a lawyer-client relationship with the author or any related party. Should you require legal advice for your particular situation, fill out the contact form, call (800) 771-7882 or email [email protected]