No. But most people use the terms interchangeably, without knowing the difference, and that includes employers. In fact, to allegedly soften the blow, some employers even tell their employees that they are being laid off, perhaps thinking that this phrase is less harsh than hearing, as Trump used to say: “you’re fired”. Under Ontario law, a worker can be laid off, without notice, but it is temporary, usually not more than 13 weeks, but sometimes up to 35 weeks.
The rules surrounding layoffs are complicated, but if the layoff goes beyond the permitted temporary period, it becomes a termination of employment, and the employee is entitled to termination pay at that time, and potentially wrongful dismissal damages. If the employer tells the employee he is laid off, but also provides either termination pay, or an offer of more money (severance), with the requirement that the employee sign a release: that employee has not been laid off; his/her employment has been terminated. You just got fired. Don’t sign; get a lawyer.
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