A topic that I address often in presentations and with clients is the failure, on the part of the vast majority of employers in Canada, to use employment agreements properly (if at all). As I have said many times, policies and agreements are the easiest ways for employers to establish the rights and obligations of the parties and avoid having them imposed by common law or other principles.
One crucial piece of advice that I offer to employers is to have every single employee sign an employment agreement that, if nothing else, sets out what will happen in the event of dismissal without cause. The reason for this suggestion is simple: without a contractual dismissal provision, an employer’s obligations in the event of dismissal without cause are unpredictable and often extensive.
I recently read an Alberta case where a financial consultant, a top performer, was terminated without notice. The court found he was wrongfully dismissed and terminated in an insensitive manner; this error in judgment cost the employer $2.2 million in damages.