Yep…………..that country song is playin’ in your head over and over……………..
You showed up for work early this morning – just like you have for the last 15 years – ready to work and do your best, just like you always do. Something different this morning. Someone from management and some stranger are waiting – for you and more of your co-workers. This doesn’t feel good.
You are handed a package, told that your employment is over, and that you are being escorted off of the property. At that point, the rest sounds like white noise. You remember something about signing a release before you will get any money, and as you walk in a daze towards the door, being escorted by a security guard like you are going to do something bad to the company you have served for so long, you wonder what you are going to tell your family and how you are going to pay the bills. I know……..
When it starts to sink in, you start to talk to friends and ask them what to do. They tell you some stuff. You hear about “severance” (often not the right word, by the way). You hear about a maximum of 8 weeks under the Employment Standards Act (WAY WAY off base!). No disrespect, but I call these folks “donut shop lawyers”. Once when I thought that Revenue Canada was going to turn me into a hand puppet, I heard a lot of this kind of well-intentioned, but misleading advice.
It is not nearly as bleak as you think. You are probably entitled to MUCH MORE than the employer is offering you. You DON’T have to accept that offer in the package that they handed you when you walked out of the door and you WON’T lose all of your rights if you don’t sign and give back that release and acceptance in the 7 to 10 days set out in the form letter.
The Notice Periods outlined under s. 57 of the Employment Standards Act (the bit that says you will only get between 1 and 8 weeks of Termination Pay, depending upon how long you have worked there) are NOT all that you are entitled to. They are bare minimums. A court WILL generally give you MUCH MORE Termination Pay than these minimums.
In Ontario common law, the amount you will get when the employer terminates you without just cause depends on many factors (and being let go because the economy stinks, or because the Canadian dollar is in the toilet, or because the employer is in bad shape, etc, etc is NOT just cause for termination). Those factors include length of employment, your level of responsibility in the organization, your age, your background and training, your likelihood of finding replacement employment, etc.
Let me give you an example. I recently helped a gentleman who had worked for a fairly large company in a mid level position for 12 years. S. 57 of the Employment Standards Act says he would only get 8 weeks (2 months) salary on termination. I negotiated a package and got him 15 MONTHS – and it was done in a way that he did not have to reimburse the employer if he got another job during those 15 months. And his benefits continued. And he got Employment Counseling. And he got an excellent letter of reference. And we structured it in such a way as to minimize his Income Taxes and other deductions. And we did it all within 6 weeks of the day he was fired. And he and his family are alive and well and have happily moved on in security.
You are not stuck. You are not alone. You can call me anytime for a free consultation. We will speak for as long as you need to speak to understand your rights, and I will give you a clear opinion on what you are entitled to and explain fee options, including working for a percentage of what you recover, that will allow you to sleep at night and ensure that you are paid what you are entitled to – not just what the employer is offering you in the hopes that desperation will take over and you will accept far less than your true worth.
All discussions are in complete confidence with clear answers and no excuses – just as they have been for 30 years.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts”. Winston Churchill.