There is certainly no “one size fits all” model when it comes to a written employment contract. The agreement doesn’t need to be long or complicated… or “formal”, but it is perhaps naïve in today’s work environment, including in the “gig economy”, to believe that the good natured feelings present at the beginning of the work relationship will always be there, or that you’ll part ways with a temporary or short-term employee on good terms in every instance; or to believe that everyone is in agreement as to just how “independent” the employee is.
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.
In Wood v. Fred Deeley Imports Ltd., the Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed that a “written employment agreement is not unenforceable merely because the employee signs it after starting to work”. The Court found the trial judge’s inference to be reasonable, noting that Deeley did not claim she reviewed the terms of her employment for the first time on April 24, 2007, or that the contract contained any new material terms. The Court acknowledged that the contract was likely signed the day after Deeley started work as “a matter of administrative convenience.” In these circumstances, fresh consideration was not necessary.