The Employment Law Show

5 Best times to contact an employment lawyer | Employment Law Show TV – S6 E21

Episode Summary

5 BEST TIMES TO CONTACT AN EMPLOYMENT LAWYER, drastic schedule changes, bonuses included in severance, and more on Season 6 Episode 21 of the Employment Law Show with employment lawyer Lior Samfiru, Partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

Watch above to discover your workplace rights and learn everything you need to know about employment law in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta, on the only employment law show on both TV and radio in Canada.

Episode Notes

Detailed doctor’s note for vaccine exemption

My employer has put in place a vaccine mandate at work. I spoke to my doctor and for medical reasons agreed I am unable to be vaccinated. My employer refused to accept my doctor’s note and stated it was not detailed enough and put me on unpaid leave.

  • Vaccinations and accommodations: Employers are not permitted to ask employees detailed and personal medical questions. Employees simply need a doctor’s note outlining an exemption and employers do not have the right to know why or question a doctor’s medical opinion. Employers must try and accommodate an employee’s medical condition, regardless of a vaccine issue. Employers who refuse to accept an employee’s condition can potentially be violating an individual’s human rights.

Severance pay when a business closes

I’m a salaried employee and have been with my company for over 4 years. Due to some hard times, it looks like they will be closing and I’m wondering what I will be owed in severance pay, unused vacation, etc.

  • Business closures and severance: Unfortunately, many companies have struggled as a result of the pandemic and had to let employees go. Employees should note that despite an employer’s struggles financially, they are still owed adequate severance pay. Severance calculations do not change depending on the financial success or difficulties of a company. Severance pay will still be based on the length of employment, an employee’s age and their position.

Drastic schedule changes and new responsibilities

The large company I work for informed our team last week that they would be restructuring and many of our jobs would be changing. My schedule will now include weekend shifts and new responsibilities that I never asked for. Do I have to accept these changes?

  • Changes made to your job: A common effect of the pandemic has been that many positions and responsibilities for employees have changed. Employees do not have to accept a significant change to the terms of their employment despite COVID-19. Minor changes are permissible however significant reductions in pay, drastic schedule changes, etc, cannot be imposed. Major changes to a job can lead to constructive dismissal and employees are able to pursue their severance entitlements.

The 5 best times to contact an employment lawyer

  • Fundamental terms of your job have changed: It is important to contact an employment lawyer quickly after a major change to the terms of employment has been imposed. The more time passes without speaking up, the more likely it is for the change to be considered accepted by an employee. An accepted change of employment also permits an employee to impose a change in the future.
  • When you are given a new employment contract: Employees who are already employed and are handed a new employment contract should be wary. New employment contracts often contain provisions that will limit an employee’s rights and entitlements, particularly in regard to severance pay. An employment contract will typically seek to protect the interests of an employer and not an employee. Before agreeing to sign a contract, an employee should seek the advice of an employment lawyer.
  • Complaints of harassment not investigated or resolved: Employees who are facing harassment and bullying at the workplace should first try and resolve the issues internally and speak to the appropriate department at work. Employers are obligated to investigate claims of harassment and resolve the situation. Employees who feel their concerns are not addressed should then speak to an employment lawyer.
  • Put on a temporary layoff without your consent: Many employees have been placed on a layoff as a result of the pandemic. Despite the pandemic, employees have the right to treat a layoff as termination and pursue their severance entitlements. Employers do not have the right to place employees on a temporary layoff unless they have agreed to do so in a contract or in the past.
  • Terminated and given a severance package: Employees who have been terminated are rarely offered an adequate severance package by their employers. Employers often offer a lot less than what employees are owed. Employees should not agree to a termination offer before seeking legal advice and have up to 2 years after the initial date of termination to pursue their rights.

Let go from a job due to isolation for COVID-19

I was let go from my job recently during the probationary period. I had contracted COVID-19 and was isolating myself as I still exhibited symptoms. Am I owed anything if I was terminated during probation?

  • Leave of absence due to COVID-19: Employees often assume that probation is automatic and always occurs at the start of employment. Employees have to agree to a probation period. Employees who are let go during the first few months of employment and have not agreed to it are still owed severance pay. Employees who are penalized for following public health guidelines or as a result of an illness or medical condition could also be owed additional damages as that could be considered a human rights violation.

Bonus included in a severance package

My employer is looking to cut back, and there is a good chance I will be let go because of my age. How much severance would I get, and would my bonus have to be calculated as part of the package?

  • Elements of a severance package: Employees are owed severance pay based on a number of factors including their age, the length of their employment and position. Other factors are also calculated regarding severance, such as annual bonuses, benefits, etc. Long-service employees can be owed up to 24 months of severance pay and should contact an employment lawyer upon termination.

NEXT EPISODE: Employment Law Show S6 E22 – Facts about the termination process

PREVIOUS EPISODE: Employment Law Show S6 E20 – Employment Law Primer for Federally-Regulated Employees

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