The Employment Law Show

Common myths about severance packages | Employment Law Show TV – S8 E16

Episode Summary

COMMON MYTHS ABOUT SEVERANCE PACKAGES, accommodations at work, complaints about harassment ignored and more on Season 8 Episode 16 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 about employment law in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia, on the only employment law show on both TV and radio in Canada.

Episode Notes

Disability benefits were cut off and returning to work

I was off work due to a serious medical condition for about half a year. I received disability benefits while on leave. My benefits were pre-emptively cut off by the insurer and now my employer wants me back at work. What can I do?

  • Approval to return to work: Many disability insurers cut off disability benefits despite an individual’s continued inability to work. Employees should listen to the advice of their treating doctors and only return to the workplace when cleared to do so. Employers who terminate employees while on medical leave could face additional legal consequences.

Long-service employee severance

I’ve been trying to persuade my friend to contact Lior’s office. He was a manager for 39 years, and they’ve only offered him 32 weeks of severance. I told him not to sign anything.

  • Accepting a severance package: Employees are owed severance based on numerous factors particularly their age, years of service and position. Severance packages are often inadequate and do not have to be accepted immediately. Employees have up to two years after the date of termination to pursue their entitlements.

An employee needs work accommodations

I’m 50 and have been at this company for 8 years. I probably need to take some time off as an injury is giving me a lot of trouble. I’m worried upon a return to work, it will still cause problems and I’ll lose employment.

  • Duty to accommodate: Employers have to accommodate an employee’s medical condition, provided they are given limitations by a treating doctor. Employers who fail to accommodate an employee’s needs could face human rights violations.

Title change but no pay cut

My title was changed from department manager to section manager. There was no change in pay just a shift change. There could be another change implemented in a few months. Is this a constructive dismissal?

  • Changes made to an employee’s job: Employers cannot impose major changes to an employee’s job without their consent. A major change can be a dramatic reduction in pay, a very different schedule, etc. Employees should voice their dissent on an imposed change as a refusal to do so is considered to be acceptance.

Common myths about severance packages

  • Let go during probation: Employees are often entitled to severance during a probation period. Probation periods are not automatic and must be consented to in an employment contract at the start of employment.
  • Severance packages must be accepted immediately: Employees have up to two years after the initial date of termination to pursue their severance pay. Employers will often impose a deadline to pressure employees into accepting an offer.
  • The same amount of severance pay: Employees often compare severance packages with their peers. Employees should note that severance packages should differ based on an employee’s age, years of service and position.
  • Forced to resign from your job: Employees who voluntarily resign are not owed severance. A forced resignation is considered to be a termination of employment, and an employee in this situation would still be owed severance pay.
  • Basic salary and wages: Severance must include an employee’s basic salary and wages, however, it should also include all other elements of compensation. This can include bonuses, stock options, car allowance, etc.

Employee rights when employer retires

I am a dental assistant and have been employed for 8 years. The owner of the business has announced his retirement and office closure in 6 months. I’m almost 60 and nervous that this will mean months of uncertainty and unemployment. Am I owed anything other than the notice of closure?

  • Business closures and severance: Employees are still owed severance pay if their employer decides to shut down their business. Working notice counts towards an entire severance package. Often employees are still owed additional severance after the notice period ends.

Bullying by a manager in the workplace ignored

After repeated complaints, my company refuses to reprimand or deal with a manager who has made many inappropriate comments and has criticized my performance as it relates to my disability. What can I do?

  • Harassment complaints at the workplace: All employees are entitled to work in a safe, harassment-free environment. Workplace harassment complaints must be investigated if brought forth. A failure to resolve harassment complaints can lead to human rights damages and a potential constructive dismissal.

Can my employer…?

  • Cancel an approved vacation period: Employers might be able to cancel an approved vacation request if they provide the employee with notice in advance, and the employee does not incur any financial penalties due to the cancellation.
  • Put on a performance plan: Employees can be placed on a performance improvement plan however it must be done legitimately and for a good reason.
  • Asked to sign a new contract: Employees do not have to sign a new employment contract if asked to be an employer. An employment contract typically limits the rights of employees.
  • Work at a new, distant location: Employers can request a relocation for employees however it cannot significantly impact an employee’s commute.
  • Put on a temporary layoff: A temporary layoff in most cases is a termination of employment regardless of the date of recall.
  • Reduced pay due to performance reasons: Typically an employer cannot reduce an employee’s pay as a means of discipline. This could lead to constructive dismissal.

PREVIOUS EPISODE: Employment Law Show S8 E15 – What you need to know about Performance Plans 

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