Employment rights in Canada during COVID-19 your employer doesn’t want you to know!

If you’ve lost your job during COVID-19, you know that what was already a difficult time for everyone became even more stressful.

You need to be aware of your employment rights, especially during COVID-19, to make sure your rights are being observed and you get all the financial compensation that should be coming to you.

Most employees don’t know that they still are entitled to severance despite the impact of COVID-19 on businesses. But nobody can afford to settle for the bare minimum many employers offer. You worked hard, perhaps for many years, and you deserve your severance entitlements.

The 3 most important things you need to know about your employment rights during COVID-19:

  • Your employer still owes you severance despite the impact of COVID-19

Some employers may suggest that, due to the presence of the pandemic, they are not legally required to provide their employees with a severance package when they are let go. That is simply not the case. Your right to receive full compensation upon termination hasn’t changed in the slightest. The laws that govern severance pay are still intact, despite what your employer may tell you.

Severance is calculated based on a number of factors, including an employee’s age, occupation, and length of service. One of the key factors that is also considered: the difficulty a person will have finding new employment. And since finding new employment during the pandemic could be more difficult, and it will take you that much longer to find a new job, you are actually entitled to more severance than prior to the pandemic.

Your employer may say that they are letting you go from the company for a valid reason, such as restructuring, poor performance or a slowdown in sales due to COVID-19. They may even identify it as a termination “for cause”. The reality is that a dismissal for cause is only reserved for the worst offenders. It applies to employees who have made it impossible for the company to keep them employed any longer, and allows them to part ways without providing a termination package. If you are let go during the pandemic for an allegedly good reason and do not receive severance pay, you have likely been the victim of a wrongful dismissal. Contact our experienced employment lawyers immediately to find out how much you are owed, and how to get the severance package that you are legally entitled to.

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  • You don’t have to accept a temporary layoff

When you were placed on a temporary layoff you probably thought you were powerless, waiting for the call from your employer to find out when you can return to your livelihood. But you can actually decide to treat that layoff as a termination and walk away with all the severance you are owed. In this case, in Ontario, BC and Alberta, you are still entitled to full severance under common law.

If you decide not to treat the temporary layoff as a termination, be aware that even if you are recalled to work, you may have given your employer the right and the ability to lay you off again. And if you are laid off a second time, you may not be able to seek severance at that point.

  • If changes were made to your job, you can treat it as a constructive dismissal, and get your severance

As mentioned, with few exceptions, you have the right to treat a temporary layoff as a constructive dismissal. This is also true for any reduction of hours or pay. A significant reduction in those aspects of your job is a serious – and illegal – change to the terms of your employment. You have the right to refuse such a change in hours or salary, or any change to your employment conditions, and to treat it as a constructive dismissal. In this case, you are entitled to your full severance.

The skilled and compassionate team at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP can provide much-needed answers during these uncertain times. Contact us today to discover what your rights are, and why we are the most positively reviewed employment law firm in Canada. Get the advice you need, and the compensation you deserve.

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Consult with Samfiru Tumarkin LLP. We are one of Canada's most experienced and trusted employment, labour and disability law firms. Take advantage of our years of experience and success in the courtroom and at the negotiating table.

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