The Employment Law Show

Lost Your Job Due to COVID-19: What You Need to Know | Employment Law Show TV – S5 E8

Episode Summary

LOST YOUR JOB DUE TO COVID-19? WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW, advanced notice of termination, working while on a temporary layoff, and more on Season 5 Episode 8 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 and British Columbia, on the only employment law show on both TV and radio in Canada.

Episode Notes

Duty to accommodate for medical reasons

I was diagnosed with a sleeping disorder and working night shifts. My doctor recommended consistent shifts and provided me with a note for my employer. My employer refused the change in schedule.

An employer has an obligation to accommodate an employee if there is a legitimate medical reason.

Segment starts at 2:15

Vacation accrual and sick leave

I was just let go this week after 2 years with a federally regulated transportation company and given 2 weeks’ pay. I have been off on sick leave since May 2020. Does vacation continue to accrue while you’re on sick leave?

Employees who are federally regulated are still entitled to severance pay that is based on age position and length of employment. If an employee is let go due to a medical condition, that is potentially a human rights violation. Vacation pay however is accrued by working. if an employee is not currently working, the pay cannot be accrued.

Segment starts at 6:05

Bonus elimination due to COVID-19

I rely on a bonus for nearly a third of my salary, which I have consistently achieved every year. Our company, which has seen strong profits despite the pandemic, is now eliminating the bonus for the year. Is that legal?

Bonuses can become a regular part of compensation if it is consistently given to an employee over a period of time and an elimination could be considered a reduction in pay and treated as constructive dismissal.

Constructive Dismissal
Change in Pay due to COVID-19

Segment starts at 8:50

Lost Your Job Due to COVID-19? What Non-Union Employees Need to Know

1️⃣ You do not have to sign any termination papers or accept any severance offer on the spot or by a deadline

Employers often pressure employees in order to sign termination papers in order to make employees feel they will lose if they don’t sign.

Segment starts at 13:28

2️⃣ Severance is based on many factors and can amount to as much as 24 months’ pay

Severance for most employees starts at two months’ pay. Age, position, and length of employment are significant factors as well as the state of the economy, how likely it is to find other employment, etc.

Segment starts at 14:45

3️⃣ You are entitled to full severance pay, even if the termination is related to COVID-19

Employment laws have not changed despite the pandemic

Segment starts at 16:04

4️⃣ Do not accept a termination for cause at face value

A termination for cause can only occur if an employee has behaved in a manner considered to be serious misconduct, i.e. theft or deception. For cause terminations are very difficult to pursue.

Segment starts at 17:00

5️⃣ Contractors are often owed a severance package

Contractors are almost always owed severance as many are misclassified employees.

Segment starts at 18:20

6️⃣ Contact an employment lawyer to find out what your rights are

It is important as soon as an issue arises and before any terms have been agreed to or signed.

Segment starts at 20:00

Advanced notice of termination

What is the maximum amount of notice a company can give you about your termination? Can they fire you during the notice period? I have been at the same company for 18 years.

An employer does not have to pay severance if they give the equivalent in advance notice of termination, working notice. As long as the company gives sufficient notice there is no need for further severance payments. Employers cannot change the terms of employment while the employee is on notice.

Segment starts at 20:42

Working while on a temporary layoff

My employer wants me to continue to contact clients, even though he put me on a temporary layoff. I am not getting paid to do it. He told me that he will fire me if I do not keep the clients “active.”

The temporary layoff itself is not legal and can be treated as a termination. If an employee accepts a layoff, they are not obligated to work during the layoff period if they are not being paid by their employer. If an employee refuses to work during this layoff period, they cannot be terminated for cause.

Temporary Layoff
Infectious Disease Emergency Leave

Segment starts at 23:45

Harassment at work leading to a resignation

The owner has been increasingly screaming and swearing at me these past few months, after 22 years of incident-free co-existence. I haven’t returned to work after yesterday’s outburst, and I don’t think I can handle the stress anymore.

Employees have a right to work in an environment without harassment and abuse. An employee in this situation would have to document the behaviour. If there is sufficient evidence of abuse and harassment an employee could leave the employment and treat it as constructive dismissal.

Segment starts at 26:11

NEXT EPISODE: Employment Law Show S5 E9 – Constructive Dismissal During COVID-19

PREVIOUS EPISODE: Employment Law Show S5 E7 – Understanding Severance Pay

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