Employment & Labour

Preparing an employee severance package: reasons to hire a lawyer

By Doug MacLeod

1. A lawyer can explain your obligations under the Employment Standards Act. Did you know there are employees who are not entitled to vacation pay, overtime pay, termination pay and severance pay under this law? For employees who do not work a regular workweek did you know there is a formula to determine how to calculate termination pay?

2. An employer can explain your obligations to provide reasonable notice of termination at common law. If the employee has not signed an employment contract with an enforceable termination clause then a lawyer can provide you with an idea of what is “reasonable” notice of termination in the circumstances. A lawyer can also inform you whether you are legally required to pay an employee who has received a bonus during the notice period.

3. An employer can explain whether you are exposed to non-wrongful dismissal damages. For example, if the employee is disabled or has recently returned from sick leave or a pregnancy leave the employer may be exposed to damages under human rights legislation.

4. A lawyer can suggest the best way to structure termination payments. Sometimes a lump sum payment is the best option and sometimes periodic payments are a better option. Another issue to carefully consider is which benefits to continue and for how long? Did you know that some insurers will not continue some employee benefit coverages after an employee is terminated?

5. A lawyer can suggest ways to minimize the out of pocket costs associated with a termination. This includes steps you can take to help the employee find alternative employment which generally reduces an employer’s monetary exposure. For example, in what circumstances is it a good idea to offer the terminated employee a reference or outplacement counselling?

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