Employment Law

Telus offering severance, retirement packages to customer support workers

Telus buys LifeWorks in $2.9 billion deal, telus, lifeworks, new employment contract

Telus has offered voluntary severance packages and retirement buyouts to nearly 2,000 unionized customer support employees in Canada, according to media reports.

What’s happening: The telecommunications giant offered the packages to customer support staff for wireless and residential services.

  • Employees who accept the voluntary severance offer will receive a lump-sum payment of one month of severance for every year of service, up to 18 months.
  • If a Telus worker takes early retirement, they will receive one month’s pay for every year worked, up to a maximum of 12 months.
  • Telus workers who accept the severance offer early will receive additional “enhancements,” including $1,000 per year of service up to a maximum of $20,000 and a $500 bonus.
  • The deadline for Telus’ severance offer is June 9, with departures set for Summer 2023 and as late as October.
  • Employees who don’t take the buyout could be redeployed to another area of the company, which may result in schedule changes.
  • The offer has not been made to Chinese-language workers, bilingual or French agents, or tech support employees.

What Telus is saying: Spokesperson Richard Gilhooley indicated that the 2,000 customer service positions are being replaced by new technology.

  • “We’ve made significant investments in customer service technology and self-serve capabilities to provide our customers with more service options,” he said via email.
  • “We recently offered a voluntary program to some team members. We anticipate a small proportion of [employees] to choose this voluntary offer.”

Union response: Donna Hokiro, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1944, which represents 6,400 Telus employees, said that 1,992 of their members were handed the buyout offer.

  • Hokiro said the loss of these union jobs will “harm communities.”
  • “The assertion that Telus abruptly no longer requires the labour of up to 2,000 members seems implausible. It becomes increasingly apparent that this avaricious decision by Telus executives prioritizes their own compensation.”

While Telus is targeting unionized workers with voluntary severance packages and retirement buyouts, it’s important for non-unionized employees in Canada to understand their rights in this situation.

Should I accept a voluntary severance package?

Non-unionized employees in Canada shouldn’t accept a voluntary severance package before speaking with an experienced employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

In some cases, individuals could be owed far more compensation if they are fired by the company, or let go involuntarily.

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Termination agreements for Telus employees

In Canada, non-unionized employees at Telus are owed full severance pay when they lose their jobs due to downsizing or corporate restructuring.

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

Severance can be as much as 24 months’ pay, depending on a number of factors.

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WATCH: Employment lawyer Lior Samfiru explains what rights employees have if they are being fired or let go on an episode of the Employment Law Show.

Before you accept any severance offer, have an experienced employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP review it and your employment contract.

We can tell you if what you have been provided is fair and how to get proper severance if it falls short of what is legally appropriate.

If you don’t receive the full amount, which happens often, you have been wrongfully dismissed and are entitled to compensation.

Employer pressuring you to accept a severance offer immediately?

In some cases, employers pressure non-unionized workers to immediately accept severance offers that provide them with far less compensation than they are owed.

The reality is that your boss can’t force you to accept it before leaving a termination meeting or even a few days after receiving it.

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

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Can my employer punish me if I don’t accept a voluntary severance package?

If you turn down a voluntary severance package or retirement buyout, your employer can’t make substantial changes to your job as punishment.

Major modifications, such as a demotion, relocation, or reduction in pay, are illegal in Canada.

When significant adjustments are made to the terms of your employment without your consent, it’s very likely that you can treat it as a constructive dismissal.

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

However, you shouldn’t quit your job before an experienced employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP confirms that you have been constructively dismissed.

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My boss is pressuring me to quit after refusing a voluntary severance package, what should I do?

While your employer might be upset that you didn’t accept a voluntary severance package or retirement buyout, the company can’t pressure or force you to resign.

If your boss is encouraging you to step down, document their attempts. Keep any letters, emails, or text messages that show how the company is pressuring you to quit.

Unfortunately, pressure from management can be so intense in some cases that non-unionized employees don’t feel they have any other option than to resign.

If you are ultimately forced to quit your job for any reason, contact Samfiru Tumarkin LLP immediately.

In addition to a severance package, you could be owed compensation for any damages associated with the end of your employment.

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Can my employer fire me for refusing a voluntary severance package?

Employers in Canada can fire non-unionized workers for any reason, as long as they are provided full severance pay and the reasons for their dismissal aren’t discriminatory. This is known as a termination without cause.

In Telus’ case, firing older non-unionized employees shortly after they turn down a voluntary severance package or retirement buyout could be seen as “differential treatment” on the basis of age.

If you believe that a reason for your dismissal was discriminatory, contact an experienced employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP immediately.

We can help you secure the compensation you are entitled to through a wrongful dismissal claim as well as a human rights complaint.

Fired “for cause”?

It’s very unlikely that employers would be able to fire staff for cause if they refused a voluntary severance package or retirement buyout — meaning no severance package or access to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.

This type of dismissal is reserved for the most severe workplace offences, such as blatant disobedience, theft, fraud or assault.

To justify terminating you for cause, the company would have to prove progressive disciplinary measures were applied and that a lesser punishment wouldn’t be acceptable, which is very difficult to do.

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Lost your job? Speak with an employment lawyer

If you are fired or let go after refusing a voluntary severance package, or for any reason, contact the experienced employment law team at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

Our lawyers in OntarioAlberta, and B.C. have helped tens of thousands of non-unionized individuals resolve their workplace issues.

We can review your situation, enforce your rights, and ensure that you receive the compensation you are legally entitled to.

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