The Employment Law Show

COVID-19: Termination of Employment | Employment Law Show TV – S4 E26

Episode Summary

TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT DURING THE CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC, temporary reduction in hours, a disability claim denial, severance when a company closes, and more on Season 4 Episode 26 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

Returning to an Unsafe Workplace

I was called back to work from a temporary layoff. I discovered that my workplace was not observing proper social distancing protocol. When I refused to work due to safety concerns, my employer treated it as a resignation.

We all have a right to work in a safe and healthy workplace. Your employer has to follow occupational health and safety legislation. An employee has a right to refuse unsafe work. If the employer lets you go, you are owed severance, and possibly additional damages.

Segment starts at 2:00

CALL: Not Called Back from Layoff

I have been temporarily laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic after 5 years on the job. If my employer does not call me back to work after the situation fails to improve, am I entitled to severance and holiday pay?

If your employer doesn’t call you back a temporary layoff, that is automatically a termination, and you are owed severance. Talk to your employer and find out if you will be called back. If you are not being called back, it’s time to consider your severance.

Segment starts at 4:41

Temporary Reduction in Hours

I’ve been recalled to work. Unfortunately, my hours are being cut from 30 down to 15 hours a week. My boss said that this is only temporary during the pandemic, but I don’t believe her. What are my options?

If your employer significantly changes your terms of employment, you have a choice: you can accept it, or you can treat it as a termination and get your severance.

Segment starts at 7:01

Setting the Record Straight during COVID-19

1️⃣  Your employer can let you go, even if they don’t have a good reason

Your employer can let you go or lay you off for a variety of reasons, but they must pay you severance.

Segment starts at 12:57

2️⃣  Your employer can’t fire you simply because they don’t want to accommodate your disability

Your employer cannot let you go for a discriminatory reason. That also applies where you require accommodation for a medical condition. An employer has a duty to accommodate you if you have a note from a doctor saying that you need accommodation. You cannot be let go because you have a medical condition.

Segment starts at 14:28

3️⃣  A temporary layoff is essentially a termination

Your employer does not have the right to lay you off temporarily. You may be able to treat a temporary layoff as a termination of employment, without waiting to see if you are called back to work. In that case, your employer would have to pay you severance.

Segment starts at 15:45

4️⃣  Don’t go to the Ministry of Labour or Employment Standards Branch if you have been let go

An employee should not go to the Ministry of Labour or Employment Standards Branch to pursue their full severance package. The government can only advise you with respect to your minimum entitlements, which are only a fraction of what you’re owed.

Segment starts at 16:57

5️⃣  Severance is not based on what the employer wants to pay

An employer does not have the right to determine the amount of termination pay you are to receive upon termination. The amount of severance is established through factors identified by common law.

Segment starts at 18:33

6️⃣  You do not have to sign your termination or severance pay offer

An employee has the right to review a severance offer and seek legal advice from our employment lawyers before accepting it. An employer cannot force a worker to sign a severance offer before leaving a termination meeting.

Segment starts at 19:46

CALL: Work Accommodation and LTD Denial

My employer isn’t providing proper workplace accommodations for my disability. Instead, they have put me on a short-term disability plan. I’ve applied for long-term disability twice, and have been denied both times. What should I do?

If you are unable to work, your insurance company has to pay your benefits. Or, if you are not disabled enough not to work, your employer has to accommodate your disability. If your doctor says you cannot work, the insurance company has to approve your long-term disability claim.

Segment starts at 21:10

CALL: Manager, Laid Off, Can’t Find Work, No Severance

I worked as a hospitality manager at a company for 29 years before losing my job due to the outbreak of the virus. The business does plan on reopening at some point. I am still struggling to find new employment. Am I owed any severance?

A business must provide severance pay to employees when they lose their job. This fact doesn’t change if the company is closing its doors permanently.

Segment starts at 24:49

Company Not Following COVID-19 Rules

I will likely be recalled to work in a few weeks. I have heard from coworkers already back at work that our boss isn’t following any of the rules set by public health. Can I refuse to return to work?

A business must follow proper pandemic protocol in the workplace, as mandated by the local public health authority.

Segment starts at 26:14

Next Episode: Employment Law Show S4 E27 – Answering Your Common Employment Law Questions

Previous Episode: Employment Law Show S4 E25 – Recalled from a temporary layoff (5 things to remember)

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