Employment Law

Shell Canada announces Alberta carbon capture projects: Employee rights

A gast station is lit up against the dark night sky. Shell Canada employees are entitled to full severance pay when they lose their job.

What’s going on at Shell Canada?

Shell Canada has announced its commitment to two major carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in Alberta, following recent setbacks in the sector. The Calgary-based company revealed it has finalized the investment decision for the Polaris carbon capture project at its Scotford refinery and chemicals complex near Fort Saskatchewan.

Celero opening North American headquarters in Edmonton
Honda supplier building $1.6B EV parts plant in Ontario
NextStar Energy hiring ‘launch team’ for Windsor EV battery plant

Additionally, Shell will proceed with the Atlas Carbon Storage Hub, a 50/50 partnership with Atco EnPower. The first phase of the Atlas project will store carbon dioxide captured by the Polaris project, which was initially proposed in 2021.

Technological and Financial Context

  • The announcement comes during a period of uncertainty regarding the financial viability of CCS technology.
  • Despite significant investment from federal and provincial governments, many CCS projects across Canada have faced cancellations or operational challenges.
  • Shell remains confident in the technology’s role in Canada’s climate plan, which involves trapping carbon emissions at their source and storing them deep underground.

Project Details

  • The Polaris project is designed to capture approximately 650,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually from the Scotford complex.
  • The first phase of the Atlas hub, expected to begin operations by the end of 2028, will store the CO2 captured by Polaris.

Economic and Environmental Impact

  • Shell has not disclosed the anticipated costs for either project.
  • These initiatives should significantly aid Canada in meeting its emission targets.
  • The recent approval of the federal carbon capture sequestration tax credit played a crucial role in their decision to advance these projects.

Statements from Shell Canada

Shell Canada President Susannah Pierce emphasized that Polaris is a critical component of Shell’s decarbonization strategy.

  • “It is now a place in time where we feel like we have the right fiscal incentives. We have greater certainty about the project. We’ve done additional design and engineering. And we’re quite excited to move forward with it because we see it as a critical technology to help us to decarbonize our own Scotford facility.”

If you are thinking about working for Shell Canada as the company launches new projects in Alberta, here are a few things that non-unionized employees need to keep in mind.

Carefully review your new employment contract

Before starting a new job in Alberta, it’s very likely that you will be asked to sign an employment contract.

In many cases, these agreements take away key protections that would otherwise be available to non-unionized workers in the province.

Your employer might attempt to limit your severance package to a few weeks’ pay, or add a clause that gives them the ability to make significant changes to your job.

WATCH: Employment lawyer Lior Samfiru explains the five things workers need to know about employment contracts on an episode of the Employment Law Show.

Once you receive an employment contract, take the time to carefully review it. Your boss can’t legally force you to accept it immediately or a few days after receiving it.

If you are unsure about anything in the agreement, contact an experienced employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP in Alberta.

We can review the contract and ensure that your workplace rights are properly protected.

Starting a new job? Here’s how an employment contract could limit your rights
’60 days or more’: Is it an enforceable termination clause?
Employment Law Show: Things to never do before seeking legal counsel

You might have to complete a probationary period

In Alberta, employment contracts often contain a “probation clause” that requires non-unionized employees to complete a probationary period when they start working for a new company.

If your employer doesn’t indicate the existence of a probationary period in your agreement, it won’t be considered “valid” or “in effect.”

While employees are usually put on probation for three months, it’s not uncommon for probationary periods to remain in effect for six months or more.

Fired during your probationary period?

If you are fired or let go before the probationary period ends, the company may still owe you a severance package.

Your entitlements depend on what you agreed to in the employment contract.

However, if you are terminated after a legitimate three-month probationary period, your employer is required to provide you with working notice or pay in lieu of notice (i.e. severance pay).

Employment Law Show: Probationary periods and termination
Car dealership fires worker during probation for violating office dress code
Wrongful dismissal in Alberta: Employee rights

Pocket Employment Lawyer

Questions about your employment rights? Use our free interactive tool to get fast answers

Get Answers Now

Severance pay considerations

Before changing jobs, you need to consider future severance possibilities.

A severance package in Alberta can be as much as 24 months’ pay for non-unionized employees, including those who work for Shell Canada. Severance is calculated using several factors, including:

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

If you quit your current job, you may not be owed severance

In most cases, non-unionized workers in Alberta don’t get a severance package if they resign from their position voluntarily to take up employment elsewhere.

Severance is designed to provide employees with financial support while they look for new work after being fired without cause or let go.

However, if you are forced to leave because of unwanted changes to your job, it’s very likely that you could treat it as a constructive dismissal.

In this situation, the law allows you to resign and pursue full severance pay.

If you believe that you have been constructively dismissed, don’t quit your job until you speak with an experienced employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

Should I negotiate my own severance package in Alberta?
Employment Law Show: Things to never do before seeking legal counsel

Your length of service affects your severance entitlements

If you are fired without cause or let go, a key factor in determining how much severance pay you are owed is your length of service.

  • Example: If you worked for a company in Toronto for 12 years and decide to take a new job in Ottawa that you sought out on your own, you forfeit the severance entitlements you built up with your current employer. As a result, if you are fired without cause or let go shortly after joining the new business, you could receive very little compensation.

However, there are situations where short-service employees are owed significantly more severance pay than they realize.

If your employer fires you without cause, and you have only been with the company for three years or less, don’t accept your severance offer before contacting our firm.

As long as you didn’t sign the offer and send it back to your boss, you have two years from the date of your dismissal to pursue full severance pay.

We can review the offer and help you secure the compensation that you are legally entitled to.

I already accepted a severance package, what should I do?
Do I have to look for a new job after getting fired?
Employment Law Show: Facts about the termination process

Recruited by another company?

In some cases, non-unionized workers in Alberta leave their current job after being actively recruited by another company.

If your new employer took documented steps to entice you to take up employment with them, this is known as inducement.

In the event that the company decides to terminate you shortly after pulling you away from your previous employer, the inducement should be taken into consideration when determining your severance entitlements.

  • Example: Company! entices you to leave your current job to come work at its auto manufacturing facility in Alliston. If you are terminated shortly after making the switch, the company may be on the hook for enhanced severance pay because of the pressure it placed on you to leave your previous employer.

If this situation applies to you, don’t sign your severance offer until it’s been reviewed by a member of our team.

We can confirm that the inducement has been properly factored into your severance package and help you secure the compensation you deserve if it isn’t.

Recruited by another company in Ontario: Employee rights
Inducement in B.C.: What employees need to know

Looking to change jobs? Speak to an employment lawyer

Before signing a new employment contract, have the experienced employment law team at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP review the agreement to make sure your workplace rights are protected.

Our lawyers in Alberta, B.C., and Ontario have successfully represented tens of thousands of non-unionized individuals.

We can help you better understand the terms of the contract and advise you on how best to navigate the situation.

Discover your rights

Talk to Canada's most positively reviewed employment law firm today to get the advice you need and the compensation you deserve

Get Help Now

Advice You Need. Compensation You Deserve.

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.

Get help now