Labour & Employment Law Blog

Feeling Pressure by Your Employer to Sign a Termination or Severance Package?

My employer is pressuring me to sign a termination or severance package before I am ready to do so.  I am worried that I will not have enough time to review the package.  What should I do?

Sometimes employers will only give a terminated or dismissed employee a few days to review and agree to the terms of a termination or severance package.  It is very common for the employer to demand that the dismissed employee agree by a certain date or risk the termination or severance package being revoked by the employer or declared “void.”

However, the dismissed employee should not be concerned over these arbitrary deadlines set by the employer because the employer does not have power to declare the dismissed employee’s rights as “void.”  Under most circumstances, the employee has 2 years from the date of termination to sue the employer claiming their legal entitlements to pay in lieu of notice.

Simply put, it is very important that the dismissed employee take their severance or termination package to be reviewed by a lawyer who regularly practices employment law.  Employment is an esoteric area of law.  Do not go to a general practitioner or other lawyer who may simply dabble in employment law.  The law changes all the time and it is crucial that the dismissed employee go to an employment lawyer who would be well aware of these changes.

The employment lawyer should review the severance or termination package and look at two main things.  The first thing that the employment lawyer will review in the case of most Ontario employees is whether the severance or termination package is in compliance with the minimum standards of the Employment Standards Act.  For instance, the employment lawyer will first establish whether the employee was party to a written employment agreement, job offer etc. Then, the employment lawyer will review the severance or termination package to see if the employer has properly accounted for termination pay, there is any severance owing and that the severance pay is properly accounted for, the employee is owed any vacation pay or benefits, etc.  Finally, the employment lawyer will review the severance or termination package to see if the employee is entitled to common law notice as well or in addition to their entitlements under the Employment Standards Act.

The employment lawyer should then proceed to help the dismissed employee to decide what next steps to take now that they are armed with this additional information.  For instance, should the dismissed employee take the severance to termination package as is?  Should they negotiate with their employer for a better severance or termination package?  Should they simply sue their employer for their entitlements?  These are questions that the employment lawyer will be able to help the dismissed employee work though.

The bottom line is that the dismissed employee should never feel forced or pressured by their employer to sign a termination or severance package.  They have options.  The best way to understand these options and to be able to get the best result possible for the employee is to make sure that their termination or severance package is properly reviewed by an employment lawyer.

The above article is for general information purposes only, does not constitute legal advice or create a solicitor-client relationship. Because each case is unique and factually driven, if you have concerns with regard to the foregoing issues, please make an appointment with one of our lawyers or a qualified legal practitioner elsewhere. We represent clients in the Greater Toronto Area including Toronto, North York, Markham, Vaughan, Thornhill, Newmarket, Aurora, Brampton, Mississauga, Barrie, Ajax, Whitby, Pickering and Oshawa.

Legal Receptionist

Zeilikman Law is an employment law firm located in Vaughan, Ontario. We are looking to hire a legal receptionist to join our firm. Preference will be given to candidates who have experience working as a receptionist at another law firm.

Location: Vaughan, Ontario.

Start Date: Immediately.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Full time. In-person only. This is not a remote work position.

Wages: 35,000 to 40,000 per year.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Manage our firm’s multi-line telephone system to receive incoming calls.  Screen incoming telephone call inquiries to determine the nature of the telephone call and provide standard information related to our legal services.  Take and deliver messages and route incoming telephone calls to the appropriate staff person.
  • Answer general inquiries coming from the firm’s social media and website email.
  • Welcome in-person visitors upon arrival.  Direct visitors to the appropriate staff person and / or office or boardroom.
  • Organize in-person visitor schedule to prevent overlap and multiple bookings.
  • Receive, sort, and distribute daily mail and deliveries.
  • Arrange for couriers.
  • Keep front reception, kitchenette area and boardroom tidy.
  • Perform various clerical duties such as filing, photocopying, and faxing on an as-needed basis.
  • Process client or other payments.
  • May be asked to run minor errands outside of office such as attending post office to arrange a courier or pick up mail.
  • May be asked to assist other law clerks or lawyers of the firm as required and as appropriate.
  • Any other basic administrative duties or tasks as deemed appropriate.

Required Skills:

  • Basic knowledge of general office procedures including filing, faxing, and printing and copying.
  • Basic word processing computer skills.
  • Proficient in receptionist and telephone practices, etiquette, and decorum.
  • Professional attitude and appearance.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Positive customer service attitude is a must.
  • Must be able to maintain confidential and sensitive information.

Education and Experience:

  • Highschool diploma or equivalent.
  • 1 – 2 years’ experience in an office setting with an emphasis in accounting, reception or clerical work is required.   We would prefer experience in a law firm environment.

Applications for this position should be sent via email to jennifer@zeilikmanlaw.com. All applications should include a cover letter, resume and at least two references. Only successful candidates will be contacted.