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reasonable notice

Dependent contractor receives 12 months pay in lieu of notice

The recent Supreme Court decision of Glimhagen v. GWR Resources Inc., 2017 BCSC 761, illustrates how an independent contractor can become a dependent contractor – an intermediate category on the spectrum between employee and independent contractor.

 

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Update on probationary clauses from Ontario Court of Appeal

Recently, the Ontario Court of Appeal affirmed that the probationary clause, which provided, simply, “Probation…six months”, was enforceable, and that the employee was not entitled to anything more than the one week of pay in lieu of notice of dismissal pursuant to the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”).

 

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Must you include bonuses when calculating lost wages?

In the case, Bain v. UBS, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice tackled the issue of whether bonuses are too be included when calculating the income that an individual would have earned during a period of reasonable notice.

 

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Fishing for notice: British Columbia Supreme Court addresses inducement and contingency factors in wrongful dismissal suits

Care is required when recruiting a potential employee, but not all active recruitment activities qualify as inducement. More than giving the employee the impression there is room to grow or job security is required. Actual evidence of promises made by the company and the employee’s reliance upon those promises is necessary to sustain a determination of inducement. Nevertheless, employers can avoid claims of inducement by using written employment agreements that contain “entire agreement” clauses and confirm that the employee has not been induced by any promises.

 

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Long-term construction employees may be entitled to reasonable notice of termination

Generally, construction employees are not entitled to termination or severance pay under the Employment Standards Act (the “Act”). Section 1 of Ontario Regulation 288/01 of the Act explicitly exempts them from such minimum employment standards. However, a long-term construction employee may still be entitled to common law reasonable notice, which is much more lucrative than what the Act provides for anyway. Nevertheless, how much notice a construction employee is entitled to under the common law remains an unsettled test in Ontario.

 

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Departing employees gone rogue

The business consequences of departing employees gone rogue were recently highlighted in Prim8 Group Inc. v Tisi. In that case, an officer and director of Prim8 Group Inc. (Tisi) resigned from his employment to set up a competing business. Two days before his resignation, Tisi removed electronic equipment from Prim8’s premises, some of which contained proprietary information, and refused to return it. Shortly thereafter, another employee resigned from Prim8 without notice to join Tisi’s competing business.

 

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Important decision regarding mitigation of damages following termination

The Ontario Court of Appeal, in Brake v. PJ-M2R Restaurant Inc., recently clarified the law of mitigation.

 

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Probationary clauses: A double-edged sword for employers

Many employers find it necessary to assess new employees’ performance on the job before making a final determination about whether an individual is suitable for a position. In the absence of an express term in an employment contract, employees in Canada are entitled to reasonable notice of termination at common law when they are dismissed without just cause. Many employers put terms in their employment contracts, such as probationary clauses, which limit this entitlement. However, employers may not always be clear on the implications of such clauses.

 

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Employment contract oversight proves costly

As an employment lawyer, my consistent advice to employers is, whether you have one employee or one hundred employees, every employer needs to have written employment contracts. There are a number of ways that employment contracts can avoid or reduce liability, but the single most valuable term to include is a termination clause. In a written employment contract, employers have the opportunity to limit what can otherwise be a significant liability to their employees for termination pay, also referred to as severance or reasonable notice of termination.

 

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Termination provisions in employment contracts

As an employee, by law, you are entitled to reasonable notice of termination of your employment. Employers however, often attempt to limit your legal entitlements by explicitly defining your rights upon termination in the employment contract. In the recent case of Singh v Qualified Metal Fabricators Ltd. an Ontario Court adopted an employee–friendly interpretation of these termination provisions, resolving the potential ambiguities in favour of the employee. While employers are allowed to contractually limit employees’ common–law reasonable notice requirements, they are required to do so with complete precision.

 

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Employees must give reasonable notice before quitting

While we often help employees who did not receive reasonable notice of termination from their employer, it is often forgotten that employees also owe a similar duty to provide notice to the employer before resigning. This common law duty was the subject of the recent case of Consbec Inc. v Walker. In this case, the BC Court of Appeal reaffirmed the existence of the duty owed by employees to the employer.

 

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Illness or disability during the notice period

Interestingly, the events following termination of employment do not affect an employee’s entitlement to notice. This includes the situation where an employee is terminated and shortly thereafter becomes ill or disabled. Our courts have dealt with this situation by suggesting a longer notice period may be warranted because the employee may find it more difficult to find alternate employment.

 

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Resignation: Best practices for employers

Cessation of an employee’s employment can happen by way of termination of employment by the employer or resignation by the employee. In the case of a voluntary resignation, while the employer may feel as though it is losing a beneficial employee, the upside is that the employer is not liable for the dreadful “reasonable notice of termination”. This blog discusses some of the best practices for employers when handling a resignation.

 

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Dependent contractors: Entitlement to reasonable notice

The recent decision of Keenan v. Canac Kitchens, confirms that dependent contractors are entitled to reasonable notice of employment termination. The required notice period can extend to years, and such as in this case, amount to 26 months.

 

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Termination clauses: Importance of clear language

In recent years, there have been many decisions on the enforceability and interpretation of termination clauses in employment contracts—which employers and their legal counsel read with both interest and apprehension. The Nova Scotia Supreme Court has now weighed in on the debate.

 

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