Ontario does not have employment “at will.” This means that if you find yourself dismissed from a non-unionized workplace, you are entitled to certain protections, one of which is an implied right to reasonable notice of dismissal or pay in lieu thereof. In common parlance, you are entitled to “termination severance” which may be substantial.
This also means that if you are presented with termination severance paperwork, you should not rush to sign it. Typically, the employer will present you with a deadline by which you are expected to accept the severance package. Our first recommendation is to not be hasty. This is because typically you will be offered a lot less than what you are legally entitled to.
Oftentimes, the termination severance package will include statements like, “in addition to your statutory rights, we will agree to provide you with extra pay on a gratuitous basis,” or “we will provide you with termination severance over and above your statutory entitlements provided that you execute the enclosed full and final release.”
Although the above words may sound enticing and reassuring because they make your employer seem very generous, most of the time these statements are there to make you agree to lesser compensation. In fact, it is remarkable how often we see many of our clients shocked at how much more pay they stand to get once they retain an employment lawyer.
The bottom line is: if you are presented with termination severance paperwork, you should consider talking to an employment lawyer before you rush to sign the dotted line.