Deferred compensation in the form of future bonuses, retention payments, and stock options has become a standard element of executive compensation. While there are countless variations of such plans, they are all designed to incent employees to remain with their employer, and to perform to the employee’s highest capability while he is there. In order to meet these goals, such plans will often include a deferral of the benefit once it is earned, in order to create an incentive to remain with the employer.
When a company purchases another business, it is important to consider the legal implications respecting the status of employees. The Ontario Superior Court recently decided a case regarding the validity of an employment contract where an employee had signed an agreement with his former employer but never executed a new agreement when the company was purchased by another business. The plaintiff argued that the employment contract only governed the previous employment relationship. The Court disagreed, finding that the terms of the employment contract still applied.
Anyone following the financial news over the last number of years has no doubt noticed the increasing frequency with which corporations are merging, or being bought out by other corporations. This often results in efficiencies for the corporations, hopefully leading to greater profit. However, the impact on the employees is often overlooked. Whether the transaction is a share purchase, asset purchase, or other type of structure, the impact on the buyers and sellers is clear. However, the impact on the employees is often less certain.