Employment Law

Severance Packages for Restaurant and Food Service Industry Employees

A chef plating food in Italy. (Photo: Fabrizio Magoni / Unsplash)

The food service industry in Canada is a $95 billion industry that serves 22 million customers across the country every day.

According to Restaurants Canada, it’s the fourth-largest private-sector employer — directly employing approximately 1.2 million people. The sector also indirectly supports another 290,000 jobs in related industries.

The roles associated with this industry include chefs, food servers, restaurant managers, sales representatives, marketing professionals, administrative staff, human resources employees, and customer service representatives.

Canada’s food service sector contributes approximately four per cent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Severance pay for food service industry employees

In Canada, non-unionized employees have a right to full severance pay when they are fired or laid off from their job.

This includes individuals working full-time, part-time, and hourly in Ontario, Alberta, or B.C.

Severance is the compensation that non-unionized workers receive from their employer when they are fired without cause.

Even if you are fired for cause, it’s very likely that you are still entitled to full severance pay because employees often don’t meet the conditions necessary for this type of dismissal.

Severance for provincially regulated employees
Rights to severance for federally regulated workers
Severance packages in mass layoffs

Regardless of a company’s grasp on employment law, they are legally required to provide proper compensation following a termination.

This concept applies during challenging economic conditions, downsizing, the closure of a business, or major public health events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

WATCH: Employment lawyer Lior Samfiru explains everything you need to know about severance pay on an episode of the Employment Law Show.

The employment lawyers at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP have represented tens of thousands of employees over the years in severance package negotiations.

Layoffs in Canada: Who is affected?
Severance pay by company: What employees need to know

We have successfully secured much larger amounts for individuals employed across a variety of positions, from entry level jobs to executives.

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How to properly calculate severance pay

Employers often incorrectly calculate severance pay. There is a belief that severance pay is one week’s pay, two weeks’ pay, or a week for every year of service an employee has with the company.

When determining how much compensation a non-unionized worker is entitled to, a variety of factors must be considered, including:

  • Age
  • Length of service
  • Position at the company
  • Bonuses
  • Benefits
  • Ability to find new work

To figure out how much severance pay you could be owed, use our firm’s Pocket Employment Lawyer.

• Severance Pay in Ontario
• Alberta severance packages
• Understanding severance in B.C.

Don’t sign on the dotted line!

Do not accept any severance offer, termination papers, or exit agreement that a restaurant may provide you with.

Once you sign back these documents, you eliminate your ability to negotiate a fair and proper severance package.

Wrongfully dismissed?

If you have lost your job in the food service industry, there is a chance that you have been wrongfully dismissed.

A wrongful dismissal in Canada happens when you are fired or permanently laid off by your employer, but aren’t given a proper severance package.

What you should receive is based on many factors. An experienced employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP can analyze your situation and explain how much compensation you may be owed.

Fired “for cause”?

In Canada, termination for cause is reserved for the worst kinds of workplace offences, such as theft, misconduct, and assault.

In this situation, employers don’t have to provide non-unionized workers with a severance package and they can’t access Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.

However, to justify this type of dismissal, your boss would have to prove that:

  • Your actions constituted serious misconduct
  • Progressive disciplinary measures were applied
  • A lesser punishment wouldn’t be suitable

If you are fired for cause for any reason, contact an experienced employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP immediately.

We can review your situation, enforce your rights, and help you secure the compensation you deserve.

Fired after a performance review?

If you are fired following a performance review, or after being put on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), you may still be entitled to severance pay.

Companies use PIPs to justify letting non-unionized employees go, sometimes without full severance, if you don’t complete it successfully.

Can I be fired after a bad performance review in Ontario?
Bad performance review in Alberta: Can I be fired?
Fired after a bad performance review in B.C.: Your rights

However, employers in Canada don’t automatically have the right to fire you, especially for cause, if you fail to meet the requirements outlined in the PIP.

Businesses often set unrealistic goals that are extremely difficult to achieve, or don’t give you the proper support to improve your work.

If you worked in the food service industry and were fired following a “bad” performance review, our firm can help you determine how much compensation you may be owed.

Changes to your job

Non-unionized employees in the food service sector don’t have to accept substantial changes to their job.

Large modifications such as a demotion, cut in pay, reduction in hours, or negative changes to commission are illegal.

If significant adjustments are made to the terms of your employment without your consent, there is a very good chance that you can treat it as a constructive dismissal.

In this situation, the law allows you to quit your job and pursue full severance pay.

However, you shouldn’t resign until our team confirms that you have been constructively dismissed.

Can your employer make changes to your job in Ontario?
Changes to your employment in B.C.
What happens when your job is changed in Alberta

Temporary layoffs

Temporary layoffs occur when an employer significantly reduces or completely stops an employee’s employment.

There is usually a mutual understanding from both sides that the employee will be called back to work, to the same position, after a reasonable period of time.

It’s important for employees in the food service industry to understand that temporary layoffs are considered illegal, unless you agree to the layoff or it is addressed in your employment contract.

You have the option to wait to be called back, or can treat this as a termination through a constructive dismissal and pursue severance.

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Non-unionized employees in the food service sector don’t have to tolerate harassment in the workplace or discrimination from coworkers or managers.

Employers must investigate and respond appropriately to allegations of harassment and abuse.

If your company is creating, or allows for the creation of, a hostile or toxic work environment, this could be grounds for a constructive dismissal.

Contact an employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin to explore your rights.

Independent contractor? Think again

If you were hired as an independent contractor in the food service sector, there is a significant chance that you have been misclassified and are actually an employee.

Many employers aren’t aware of the nuances between the two roles. Some deliberately misclassify employees as contractors to avoid acknowledging certain employment rights, like minimum wage, vacation, overtime pay, and severance pay when an individual is fired.

Companies can’t avoid their legal obligations by having staff sign an employment contract, which indicates that they are a contractor rather than an employee.

Our legal system provides guidelines for determining whether someone is a contractor or employee.

Use Samfiru Tumarkin LLP’s Pocket Employment Lawyer right now to find out which role applies to you.

Fixed-term contracts

  • If your employment is terminated before the end of your fixed-term contract, you are entitled to the remaining pay, or balance, as outlined in the agreement.
  • If you work two or more consecutive fixed-term contracts with the same employer, you are likely considered an employee and are entitled to full severance pay if your job is lost, or your contract is terminated or not renewed.

Fired for medical reasons?

If your medical condition was in any way a factor in your employer’s decision to fire you while you are on leave, you may be able to file a human rights claim.

Your employer can’t let you go due to medical issues or a disability. Such an action is illegal and a violation of your human rights, and you are owed a severance package and potentially additional compensation.

It’s legally permissible for an employer to fire someone without cause for reasons unrelated to their medical leave or disability, as long as the company provides proper severance pay.

Your employer may also legally fire you while on medical leave if:

  • You are dismissed for reasons which sufficiently establish just cause
  • Your employment contract has been frustrated

Long-term disability denied? Don’t appeal

If you work in Canada’s food service sector, and your long-term disability claim has been denied by your insurance provider, you will likely receive a letter inviting you to appeal the decision.

While it might seem like a good idea to do so, in almost all cases, the appeals process will be handled by the same insurer that denied your claim.

Insurance companies make money by not paying claims. They often use the appeals process (sometimes leading claimants to request multiple appeals) to run out the clock on your ability to file a claim against them to get the money you are owed.

If your long-term disability claim is denied, cut off, or comes under “investigation”, contact Samfiru Tumarkin LLP immediately.

Appealing a long-term disability claim denial
Short-term disability claim denials

Our team also represents individuals in all provinces (excluding Quebec) who have been denied a life insurance, critical illness, or mortgage insurance claim.

Employment lawyers for food service industry employees

Our employment lawyers have helped tens of thousands of individuals across Ontario, Alberta, and B.C. enforce their rights.

With employment lawyers in TorontoOttawaCalgary, and Vancouver, we stand ready to help you solve your workplace issues.

If you are a non-unionized employee in the food service industry who needs help with an employment issue, contact us or call 1-855-821-5900 to get the advice you need, and the compensation you deserve.

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