Employment Law

BC Ferries fires CEO Mark Collins: C-suite rights to severance

BC Ferries

In a surprise announcement, BC Ferries has decided to fire CEO Mark Collins before the end of his contract.

Collins, who had been with the company for 18 years, the last five as CEO, has been temporarily replaced by former vice president and CFO Jill Sharland.

“Like many organizations, BC Ferries has faced recent staffing shortages, service interruptions, and COVID-related challenges,” BC Ferries board chair Joy MacPhail said in a statement.

“There are no quick fixes to these systemic challenges, but as a board, we believe it is time for renewal, fresh ideas, and a renewed commitment to the highest standards of customer service.”

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BC Ferries and severance packages

MacPhail added that the company is grateful for the work Collins put in during his time as CEO and that they wish him well “in all future endeavours.”

Regarding the amount of severance pay he is entitled to, BC Ferries said his compensation is still being finalized.

What should be included in a severance package for an executive? 

For C-suite employees, such as a CEO, their severance package should include all forms of compensation and benefits of employment that they had been receiving at the time of their dismissal.

Severance packages for executives and senior-level employees can be complex since there a number of factors that must be considered for compensation.

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WATCH: Employment lawyer Lior Samfiru explains why employees should always get legal advice before signing or accepting a severance offer on an episode of the Employment Law Show.

Are there limits to the amount of severance C-suite employees can receive?

A C-suite employee’s severance package could be limited based on their employment agreement or employment offer. The contract might use a termination clause to restrict the amount of severance pay (also known as reasonable notice) that is owed when the individual is fired or loses their job.

A severance package is based on a number of individual factors, including your:

  • Length of service
  • Position
  • Age
  • Ability to secure re-employment

If an employment agreement does not limit your compensation to provincially legislated minimum amounts (at most a few weeks’ pay), under the common law, you could receive as much as 24 months’ pay and, in some cases, slightly more. Our Pocket Employment Lawyer can help you figure out how much severance you may be owed.

The courts also agree that pay in lieu of notice must include all the compensation and benefits that the dismissed worker would have earned during the notice period had they worked it, including their bonus. This can be the case even where a bonus is described as “discretionary.”

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What should I do if I’m an executive who lost my job?

If you are a senior executive who has lost your job, you should have your severance package offer reviewed immediately by the experienced employment law team at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

The majority of non-unionized employees who are dismissed without cause, including C-suite employees, are owed more severance than the statutory minimums provincially and federally.

If you do not receive the correct amount of compensation, then you have been wrongfully dismissed.

Our B.C. employment lawyers will review your situation, present you with sound options and strategy, and work to get you what you are owed.

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Contact one of Canada's most experienced and trusted employment law firms to find out how much severance pay you are actually owed.

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