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A contract is a legal obligation


April 26, 2022 Chris Gibbon, ATA Secretary to Professional Conduct Committees


Teachers who walk away from their position risk being found guilty of unprofessional conduct


Pitfalls and Precautions is a series that aims to educate teachers on professional conduct issues by highlighting situations addressed by the ATA Professional Conduct Committee.

Many teachers start or continue their careers in more remote parts of the province. In some cases, these locations are a long drive or a long flight away from family, and a visit home during the holidays can result in people not wanting to return to their teaching positions. In some cases, teachers have abandoned their jobs which, in turn, causes grief for employers, who must staff that position on very short notice. 

Teachers who sign an employment contract are required under the Education Act to give at least 30 days’ notice if they are choosing to terminate their contract with the employer. Where there is a break of 14 days or longer, they must give the 30 days’ notice before that break unless they are released by mutual consent. Sections 216 and 217 of the Education Act are clear about what is required by a teacher when choosing to terminate their contract of employment.

Termination by teacher 

216(1) A teacher may terminate 

(a) a contract of employment with a board, or 

(b) a designation of the teacher made pursuant to section 202, 203 or 204, 
by giving the board 30 days’ written notice of the teacher’s intention to terminate that contract or designation. 

(2) If a teacher has terminated the teacher’s contract of employment with a board before rendering any service under the contract, the teacher must not be employed by another board unless the board with which the teacher’s contract was terminated gives its prior approval to the teacher’s employment with the other board. 

Notice of termination 

217(1) Subject to section 214(2), a notice of termination of a contract of employment or of a designation made pursuant to section 202, 203 or 204 must not be give n by a board or a teacher 

(a) in the 30 days preceding, or 

(b) during a vacation period of 14 or more days’ duration.


In many other cases, teachers have secured teaching employment elsewhere and their new employer is not willing to wait the 30 days required under the act. Some of these teachers have chosen not to give appropriate notice and thus fail to meet their obligation to their former employer. These teachers who fail to give appropriate notice or who leave without mutual consent open themselves up to complaints from either the employer or a member of the public. In most cases, these teachers have been found guilty of unprofessional conduct in that they have acted contrary to Section 9 of the Code of Professional Conduct: “The teacher fulfills contractual obligations to the employer until released by mutual consent or according to law.”

In addition to being found guilty, these teachers have also received a letter of reprimand and been required to pay a fine. Failure to pay these fines can result in suspension of membership until the fine is paid. This will cause a domino effect as suspension of membership will result in the Association contacting the employer because membership in the Association is a requirement of employment. 

For further information regarding resigning from a teaching position, be sure to contact a staff officer in Teacher Employment Services. ❚

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