Calculating Severance : What do the Courts’ Say?

We’ve all heard one of the following stories… An employee in heavy industry is laid off because of a downturn in the economy… Or an office worker is let go because she doesn’t get along with her supervisor… Or a company is going through a restructuring and has to terminate a quarter of its staff.

While the creation and destruction of jobs is essential to our economy and our workplaces, people affected by job-loss are nonetheless dealing with a unique form of personal tragedy. After all, a job is not only a source of income, it contributes to our overall well-being and is an important part of our identity.

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Important Changes to BC Labour and Employment Laws

While it has been understood for some time that British Columbia’s NDP government was looking to modernize labour and employment laws, the extent of these amendments was not clear.

Well, the wait is over, as this week the provincial government formally announced its changes to the Employment Standards Act and to the Labour Relations Code, and there are important implications for unionized and non-unionized workers alike.

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Does a 4-Day Work Week Work for Your Business?

TGIF

Businesses are increasingly looking at ways to attract, retain and motivate talent. But for all the talk of ping-pong tables, bean chairs and remote offices, could one solution be as simple as restructuring the typical work week?

In a recent world-wide survey conducted by Kronos, 59% of Canadian workers indicated that they would be interested in a 3-day weekend, and nearly 30% of Canadians were ready to take a pay-cut in order to do so. But practically speaking, how would a business go about doing so?

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Why does the court process take so DAMN LONG? Actually… it doesn’t have to

Lawsuits are long, expensive and stressful.

And in most cases, I would agree with this statement. Complicated cases often require multiple trial days, which need to be booked several months or even a year in advance.  Court resources are thin and time is precious, so get in line and wait your turn.

But it doesn’t always need to be that way, especially with cases that are relatively simple or are valued at less that $100,000. It also just so happens that most employment law cases fall into one or the other of these categories. 

In my practice, with almost every new litigation file I start I aim to have the matter resolved either by settlement or court judgment within 6 months. Here are some of my strategies.


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Paradise Lost – Firing an Employee on Vacation

For some employers, the idea of firing an employee while they are away from the office – either because they are vacationing or on some leave – may be tempting. After all, it will avoid an uncomfortable scene at work, will facilitate securing electronic file material and other corporate records, and can assure confidentiality.

However, as my colleague, Samantha Stepney, writes in her most recent blog post, we recommend that you reconsider this strategy for both legal and other reasons.

To read Samantha’s full article on terminating an employee’s employment on vacation, click here.

At Kent Employment Law, we promote sustainable employment relationships. We believe that these relationships are mutually beneficial to employers and employees alike, and are founded on a relationship of trust and respect. If you have questions concerning terminations or other Employment Standards rights such as vacations, please contact one of our offices.

 

David M. Brown
Kent Employment Law
236-420-1946
david@kentemploymentlaw.com
LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/davidmjbrown
Twitter: @davidmjbrown

Rights and Obligations in a WorkSafeBC Inspection

There are few things more unsettling to employers than a surprise visit by a WorkSafeBC investigator, whatever the motivation for the inspection may be. While many managers may want to respond by telling the investigators to “get lost”, a more sensible approach starts with understanding everyone’s rights, obligations, and expectations during investigations of this nature.

 

lumber-yard-accident

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The Legalities of Criminal, Credit and Medical Checks in HR

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From time to time, I get questions from employees and companies alike about the legalities of performing various forms of background checks in the hiring process. While thankfully these issues do not come up too frequently, three forms of checks which cause particular concern are criminal record checks, credit checks, and medical checks.

While requests for this type of sensitive personal information are far more common in the United States, they continue to be applicable in Canada as well. In this article, we will examine whether these requests are legal and if so, what types of limits are associated with them. Continue reading “The Legalities of Criminal, Credit and Medical Checks in HR”

Employee Rights in a Workplace Investigation

Most people working in larger organizations have probably seen the following scenario, either from near or from far:

A co-worker has filed a complaint with human resources. We may know who the complainant is, but most likely their identity is kept anonymous to protect against retaliation. One by one, a human resources manager brings in witnesses to answer questions with a view of proving or disproving the complaint or ‘building a case’. Inevitably, the subject of the complaint will be asked to participate in one or more interviews. The conversation lacks context and the respondent is asked vague questions about past conduct. When the respondent provides a definitive answer, the interviewer ominously asks “Is there anything further I should know”, or even worse “Are you being completely truthful?”

All of which begs the question: if ever asked to participate in a workplace investigation, what are an employee’s rights?

investigator

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Fixed-Term Employment: Manage the Risks and Respect Your Employees

Some employment relationships are short term or temporary by necessity, such as when an employee is hired to complete a discrete project or fill a maternity leave position. In these situations, the parties will often sign a contract that sets out how long the employment will last and when exactly it will end. We call such agreements fixed-term contracts.

One benefit to employers of a fixed-term contract is that when the employment ends on the date specified (subject to the cautions set out below), the employee is not entitled to reasonable notice or severance. However, there are also potential risks to using fixed-term employment contracts in your business.

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The Challenge of Terminating for Cause: Stock v. Oak Bay Marina Ltd.

What’s the difference between a termination with cause and without? Most people seem to have a good idea, and recognize that a termination with cause is rooted in employee misconduct. If it has been discovered that an employee has been stealing, lying or committing other forms of misconduct, the employer may be able to argue that the employee has fundamentally breached the employment agreement and that the employer is therefore entitled to put an end to the arrangement without any compensation or severance pay.

Or so the thinking goes… What many workers and employers may not recognize is that terminating someone for “just cause” can be remarkably challenging, as one company recently discovered in the recent BC Supreme Court decision Stock v. Oak Bay Marina Ltd., 2017 BCSC 359.

Terminated Continue reading “The Challenge of Terminating for Cause: Stock v. Oak Bay Marina Ltd.”