Labour & Employment Law Blog

Ontario’s Divisional Court Expands Severance Pay Entitlement

Zeilikman Law

Zeilikman Law

Case Summary

Ontario’s Divisional Court in Hawkes v. Max Aicher (North America) Limited, 2021 ONSC 4290 has ruled that employees are now entitled to severance pay even if the payroll used to determine if severance pay is appropriate is outside Ontario.

The applicant in this decision brought his application for judicial review of the decision of the Ontario Labour Relations Board (“OLRB”) that set out that he could not get severance pay from his former employer.

To remind our readers, Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) in section 64(1) sets out that employees are entitled to severance pay when the employer severs the employment relationship and if the employee was employed by the employer for 5 years or more. Additionally, and applicable to this case, is section 64(1)(b) which sets out that employees are entitled to severance pay only when the employer has a payroll of $2.5 million or more. Please read our blog entitled “Some Information About Severance Pay” if you want more information.

The applicant in this case was terminated from his employment in October 2015. Following his termination, the applicant filed a complaint with the Ministry of Labour and made a claim for severance pay. In January 2017, an employment standards officer determined that he was entitled to termination and vacation pay, but not severance pay. This was because the employer did not have a payroll of at least $2.5 million. The employment standards officer concluded that only the employer’s Ontario payroll would be included as part of the calculation of payroll under the ESA. It is important to note the employer’s global payroll exceeded the $2.5 million threshold.

The applicant then moved to have this decision reviewed by the OLRB. The OLRB sided with the employment standards officer and held that the employer’s global payroll should be excluded from the calculations under s. 64 of the ESA. The OLRB held that only payroll in Ontario will be used to calculate whether or not an employee is entitled to severance pay.

On judicial review the Divisional Court disagreed with the OLRB and held that section 64 of the ESA should not be restricted to the employer’s payroll in Ontario. Therefore, the severance pay entitlement has been expanded so that the employer will be obligated to pay severance pay whether or not their payroll is Ontario. The payroll only needs to be of $2.5 million or more.

Our Thoughts

Employers will now have to look at their total global payroll to determine whether they should pay the terminated employee severance pay. This is definitely a win for employees and should expand eligibility to other termination employees who would otherwise not have qualified for severance pay under the ESA.

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.