Severance packages and terminations

Helping you determine notice and severance requirements

Our careers are more than just a job – it’s where we spend most of our time and often is a major part of our identity. When there is a problem in the workplace, it can take significant on our well-being.

If your employer has terminated your employment, or you are an employer who is considering dismissing an employee, you will have a lot of questions. Most employees in Canada are entitled to receive notice of termination unless they are being dismissed for just cause. The amount of notice and severance to which an employee may be entitled depends on many factors.

To determine the amount of notice an employee may be entitled to, we start by determining whether the employer is federally or provincially regulated, and determining the employee’s minimum statutory entitlements. We also consider the employee’s common law entitlements, as determined by the courts. Common law reasonable notice is determined by an employee’s particular circumstances, and tends to be longer than the statutory notice period. The most relevant factors are the employee’s age, length of service, and compensation and the nature of their position.

An employee may receive working notice, pay in lieu of notice equivalent to the value of salary and benefits that would have otherwise been provided during the notice period, or a combination of both. Notice may be limited by the terms of an employment contract, so long as the contract is enforceable and meets the minimum requirements of the relevant employment standards legislation. For this reason, it is important for employees and employers to carefully consider any limits to notice entitlements that are included in an employment offer or contract. Our experienced employment lawyers can help you determine appropriate notice and severance requirements.

Wrongful Dismissal

Wrongful dismissal occurs when employees are dismissed in a way that is contrary to their contract or a Canadian employment law, such as the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) or the Canada Labour Code (CLC). Canadian employment law requires a fairly high standard to dismiss an employee for just cause, without any notice. Employees may sue their employers for the failure to provide any or sufficient notice or pay in lieu of notice.

Constructive Dismissal

A constructive dismissal occurs when an employee has not been dismissed, but a fundamental term of their employment has been changed significantly by their employer. The change may relate to, among other things, compensation, title, the employee’s position, or the employee’s duties. Abusive behavior by an employer may also give rise to a constructive dismissal. Remedies for constructive dismissal are similar to those found in a wrongful dismissal suit.

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