What should you do if your employer has announced that your job has been eliminated?
Telus has announced earlier this month that it was planning to reduce its workforce and was set to offer “early retirement” and “voluntary departure” packages to certain employees that it sought to eliminate. What should you do if you are an employee who has been laid off or terminated by Telus or any other company?
The first step that any employee should take is to talk to our team at Zeilikman Law. Our employment lawyers have helped hundreds of employees to ensure that they get the full compensation that they are entitled to when they have experienced a wrongful dismissal. We strongly suggest that an employee does not accept any severance offer, termination package, voluntary departure packages, early retirement documents or exit agreements that your employer (Telus or any other employer) provides to the employee without first speaking with our team at Zeilikman Law in order to ensure that they get a fairly negotiated package. If an employee is presented with any termination or severance paperwork, do not rush to sign or accept it. Typically, the employer will present you with a deadline by which you are expected to accept the severance or termination package. Our recommendation is to not be hasty and not feel the need to quickly accept it. This is because typically what the employer offers at first is a lot less than what you are legally entitled to.
Some Information for Telus Employees or Any Other Employee
If a Telus employee has had their job “eliminated,” then they should approach an employment lawyer to determine if they have been wrongfully dismissed or wrongfully terminated. Wrongful dismissal can occur when an employee has been terminated by their employee without reasonable notice of termination. Where wrongful dismissal is present, the employee may be entitled to compensation.
An employee that has been wrongfully terminated is entitled to pay in lieu of reasonable notice which would consist of all entitlements the employee would have been eligible for but for his or her termination, such as bonuses, pay increases, etc. More often, however, employees are entitled to what is colloquially referred to as a “severance package.”
An employer does hold the right to terminate an employee provided that there is reasonable notice to the employee of the employer’s intention. Thus, unless “just cause” for dismissal is established, there are implied terms in contracts of employment that protect the employee against wrongful dismissal by requiring proper notice, payment, or a combination thereof, by the employer.
Absent an enforceable contractual term, an employer cannot say to the employee that there is no more work available and, as such, that at a certain future date the employee will be recalled back to work so that they can continue with their job as the workload has increased. This will amount to “constructive dismissal.” Constructive dismissal would entitle the employee to both statutory and common law entitlements as the employment relationship is at an end.
To be clear, a layoff is not lawful even if the employer has complied with the layoff provisions in Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000. The right to layoff is found in the employment contract or agreement and not in the statute. Therefore, absent a layoff being a contractual term (either express or implied), the moment when the employer “lays off” the employee, they are facing the fact that they have constructively dismissed the employee who can now sue the employer for compensation.
“Severance pay” is also a source of confusion for many employees. For instance, “termination pay” and “severance pay” are often used interchangeably, when in fact these terms are not the same. Severance pay is a payment made to a dismissed employee who qualifies for the payment of severance under statute. There are certain qualifiers for severance pay.
Employees are also entitled to their legal rights established under statutory regimes, including Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000, which speaks to requirements for notice periods and severance pay entitlements, among other things.
Please look at our other blogs to learn more. We have written about this topic extensively: