The employment relationship between companies and people can end suddenly after years of service for many different reasons. Our laws provide the employee with certain minimum protections if they are fired or in the event of a lay-off.
It is important that employers obtain legal advice before an employee is terminated or fired. Most employers or Human Resources professionals are aware that they must meet the minimum standards under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act when they lay-off or terminate an employee. Some employers may not be well informed of other obligations that they have regarding notice of termination.
Good employer practice should include obtaining legal advice regarding the interpretation of any written employment contract before a lay-off or termination is considered. Employers and employees can also obtain legal advice regarding the length of notice that is required where there is no written employment contract. The common law requires that employers give “reasonable notice” of termination to the employee or compensation in lieu of the required notice.
Failure to provide adequate notice or pay in lieu of notice could result in a claim for wrongful dismissal by the employee. If an employee is wrongfully dismissed he or she could be entitled to compensation for the entire notice period that is imposed by law.
In serious cases, an employee with a disability that is wrongfully dismissed could lose group insurance benefits and this could result in very significant claims for loss of future benefits.
Some employment relationships may be called or labelled “independent contractor” relationships by the employer and employee but in reality they may function more like a traditional employment relationship. The test is the substance of the relationship, not how it is labelled. If an “independent contractor” is terminated, they may be entitled to the same protections and compensation as a regular employee.
Every employment situation is different. Our lawyers will work with you or your Human Resources team and provide guidance, advice and assistance regarding your staff. Our lawyers can also give you valuable advice and assistance if you have been recently laid-off or fired.