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Severance pay

Don’t take a chance on it: The uncertainty of ESA-only termination clauses

In January 2017, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its decision in Cook v. Hatch upholding a less than perfect termination clause that failed to reference statutory severance pay or provide for continued health benefits during the statutory notice period. A month later, the Court of Appeal responded with its decision in Wood v. Fred Deeley Imports Ltd. where it overturned a motion judge’s ruling upholding a similar termination provision. And so, the age old debate about the enforceability of ESA-only termination provisions rages on.

 

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Ontario court: “Total payroll” must be considered when assessing employer severance pay obligation

The Wissing case is an important decision for Ontario employees and employers alike. It confirms that in assessing an employee’s entitlement to statutory severance pay, the Courts will look at the employer’s total payroll, not just that of its Ontario operations.

 

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Ontario Court of Appeal addresses the issue of what constitutes mitigation income

The Court addressed the issue of what constitutes mitigation income for purposes of assessing any required deductions from common law entitlements.

 

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Wrongful dismissal: When does the limitation period clock start running?

A recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice touches upon a little discussed area of employment law. Specifically, when does the limitation period clock start running for a claim of wrongful dismissal?

 

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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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Termination clauses – The legal debate

It appears that the saga of judicial interpretation and consideration of termination clauses will continue, with predictably unpredictable results. Courts will enforce termination clauses that limit an individual’s entitlement to notice of dismissal, but the onus will be on the employer to show that the clause should be enforced.

 

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Ontario Court of Appeal suggest deference to trial judge in interpretation of termination clause

The Ontario Court of Appeal weighed in, to some extent, on the hot issue of enforceability of termination clauses in a recent decision. In this case, the clause at issue was written in French. The Applicant argued that the Motion Judge’s interpretation of the clause only referred to “notice” and not “severance” and therefore the termination clause was an unlawful attempt to contract out of the Employment Standards Act because it did not expressly provide for the payment of severance and there are a number of cases suggesting such clauses are void.

 

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Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

The three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with: A case that applies a three-part test to determine just cause; a case that provides a reminder that both employers and employees are required to give reasonable notice of termination at the conclusion of an employment relationship; and a case where an employee failed to provide sufficient medical evidence supporting her absences, therefore her termination was deemed justified.

 

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Small claims court rules termination clause that violates ESA in future is unenforceable

This decision is another reminder to employers to ensure that termination clauses provide for all entitlements prescribed by the Employment Standards Act in order for them to be considered valid and enforceable. The company in this case should never have carved out its obligation to provide statutory Severance Pay.

 

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Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with rehiring a terminated employee; employer’s responsibility for employee privacy breach; and, new Ontario JHSC certification training.

 

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Commencement of notice period when employee is dismissed while on disability leave

Sometimes, individuals will be dismissed from their jobs at a time when they are on disability leave. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as the decision to dismiss is entirely unrelated to the employee’s disability. For example, if an organization decides to eliminate a department of ten people, one of which is currently […]

 

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Dismissal without just cause: not necessarily “unjust dismissal” under the Canada Labour Code

In Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, the Federal Court of Appeal has clarified the impact of the Canada Labour Code on an employer’s ability to dismiss employees without cause.

 

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Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with statutory severance pay; unjust dismissal; and, napping while on duty.

 

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Common traps that many Ontario employers fall into in the course of termination

This post is focused on common traps that many employers fall into in the course of termination. While it is written from the perspective of employers, each of these points applies equally to employees, since an individual that misunderstands these issues will fail to enforce their legal rights and end up leaving substantial amounts of money on the table when they lose their job.

 

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