The Employment Law Show

Maternity and Parental Leave Primer | Employment Law Show TV – S6 E19

Episode Summary

MATERNITY AND PARENTAL LEAVE PRIMER, laid off after contracting COVID-19, constructive dismissal, and more on Season 6 Episode 19 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

No longer given shifts considered terminated

I worked in a restaurant for a number of years and I’d get a weekly schedule. I noticed recently I am no longer getting shifts. What are my rights?

  • Reduced shifts dramatically: Employers can try and terminate employees often without giving notice. Despite a clear notice, employees who are no longer given work are considered to have been terminated and are owed their severance entitlements. Employees who are unsure of their next steps or rights can contact their employer first and if still unsure, should contact an employment lawyer. It is important for employees not to waste time as there is a two-year limitation period after termination to pursue severance.

Owed a week per year of employment severance or more

Layoffs are likely coming after we lost a big contract. According to the government I’m owed 1 week of severance per year I’ve worked there. How much should I get after 15 years at the company?

  • Severance calculations for government employees: Employees often incorrectly assume that they are owed a week per year of service of severance entitlements. This calculation is the minimum severance entitlements and not their full common law severance entitlements. Severance pay is based on numerous factors including the age of an employee, their length of service and their position. Other factors can also influence severance such as the likelihood of future employment.

Pressured and harassed to retire by supervisor

My supervisor harasses me constantly, saying that I am unproductive and unqualified for the job, and insists that I retire. There are many days when I feel scared to go to work. I filed an internal complaint, but nothing has been done. Should I just quit?

  • Harassed in the workplace: All employees are entitled to work in a safe and harassment-free workplace. Employers are obligated to investigate and resolve complaints of harassment within the workplace. A failure to do so is considered a human rights violation. Employees should first file a complaint in writing with their employer and ensure all incidents are recorded. Employees who feel their complaints have not been taken seriously can then contact an employment lawyer and seek legal advice before making any significant decisions.

Maternity and Paternity Leave Primer

  • Who qualifies for maternity or paternity leave: While every province differs, every parent qualifies for a protected leave of absence. This can include parents who are adopting a child. In some provinces, employees will have to work a certain number of hours before taking leave. Employees who have worked long enough before the due date and are considered new parents qualify for maternity or parental leave. See our resources on maternity leave in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia for more details on this subject.
  • How long can somebody take this kind of leave: In most places in Canada, employees can be off for up to 18 months of maternity and or parental leave. During this time, employees’ jobs must be protected and they can focus on their own recovery and childcare obligations. Parents are allowed to split the amount of time between them.
  • Can you be fired for taking maternity leave: Employees cannot be penalized or fired for taking parental or maternity leave. Employers cannot take any negative action toward their employees while they are on leave.
  • Rights when they come back from maternity/paternity leave: Employers must take their employees back to the same position and wages that they had prior to taking a leave of absence. Employers cannot decide to reduce hours or change the fundamental terms of an employee’s position once they have returned from leave. If the previous position is no longer available, a comparable position must be found.  A failure to find comparable work or accept an employee’s return can be considered a human rights violation.
  • Parental leave as a break in an employee’s continuous service: Employees who are off on leave are still considered to be employed and so their time on leave will count towards seniority or severance in the future.

Laid off after contracting COVID-19 and isolating

I fell ill with COVID-19. When I recovered and produced a negative test, I told my employer that I was ready to return from work. Instead of bringing me back, the company laid me off citing a lack of work.

New owner changes fundamental terms of job

The company my mom has worked for the past 20 years has been purchased by a new owner. They have substantially changed several aspects of her job. Is this constructive dismissal?

  • Changes to an employee’s job: In a sale of a business, employees who continue working with the buyer continue their previous years of employment and seniority. Employers cannot decide without an employee’s consent to remove benefits, reduce wages, or implement any changes to the terms of employment. Employees can accept the proposed changes by their employer or treat their employment as terminated and pursue constructive dismissal and severance pay.

Put on a performance plan and worried about losing a job

My employer recently put me on a performance improvement plan. After listening to your show, I realize that this likely means that my boss is planning on firing me in the future. What can I do to stop that from happening?

  • Performance management by an employer: Employers cannot be prevented from terminating employees. Employees who have been put on a performance plan should be aware that their employers might be trying to terminate their employment for cause. Documenting in writing to their employers their disapproval of certain criticisms and reviews can protect an employee’s rights. Employees should not accept reviews that they do not agree with as refusal to speak up can be considered as acceptance.

NEXT EPISODE: Employment Law Show S6 E20 – Primer for federally regulated employees

PREVIOUS EPISODE: Employment Law Show S6 E18 – 5 Facts on Overtime Pay

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