The single most common issue in employment law is not whether employees are entitled to severance pay upon dismissal, but how much. Even seasoned employment lawyers can have vastly differing opinions on the value of the same case, because even little details can make a huge difference.
Here are some basic things that all employees should know about severance entitlements:
1.There are two types of severance pay – and you could be entitled to both
“Severance” is a specific entitlement spelled out in employment standards legislation. For instance, the Ontario Employment Standards Act provides up to 1 week of severance per year. Severance can also refer, however, to “common law” entitlements that can only be awarded by a court. This can be months or even years of pay, depending on your age, length of service, character of employment, chances of re-employment, and many other factors.
Confusingly, your employment termination can give rise to both types of severance. It is important that you understand both entitlements. The interchangeable use of the term “severance” often misleads employees about their entitlements.
2.Your employer is not offering you a severance to be nice
While severance is usually not required for US-based employees, the opposite is typically true in Canada. Make no mistake – when your employer offers you a severance in Canada, they are almost always doing so because they must. Unfortunately, this misconception often leads Canadian employees to gratefully accept the first offer, not realizing that their true severance entitlements could be significantly more.
3.Your employer is trying to buy your signature
When your employer offers you a severance, they will tell you that the offer “gratuitous”, made in “good faith”, or claim that the money is “to assist in your transition”. They may give you a deadline to accept. They may threaten to withhold money if you refuse. These are classic sales tactics designed to pressure you into a deal.
You have more leverage than your employer would lead you to believe. Your employer is trying to buy a very unique and valuable product that only you can provide: your signature. Do not give your employer what they want without knowing what it is worth.
4.Your employer’s first severance offer is usually low
In most cases, determining your total severance entitlements is more of an art than a science, and requires forecasting what a judge might think and say about your specific circumstances, as well as what might happen in the months or years after your dismissal. For this reason, severance entitlements fall within a range of outcomes. Your employer’s first offer is usually not their best offer, and there may be significant room for improvement.
5.Your employment contract may not mean what you think
Your employer may have had you sign an employment contract to attempt to limit severance entitlements upon your termination. In fact, this is a very common requirement from employers. Far less commonly, however, are these agreements enforceable. Seemingly minor technical abnormalities in the language of your employment agreement could have huge impacts on your severance entitlements. Trust only an employment lawyer to properly interpret your employment contract.
6.If your employment is terminated, always contact an employment lawyer
Share Lawyers offers free consultations, meaning that if we think we can help you improve on your employer’s severance offer, we will arrange a call for you to speak with an employment lawyer with no charge and no obligation. Call us today to have your severance offer reviewed for free.
Visit the Severance page on our site to learn how Share Lawyers’ employment lawyers can help if you think you’ve been offered an unfair severance package, or no severance at all.
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A note from our long term disability lawyers
Taking a medical leave from work is not an easy decision to make. Concerns about providing for yourself and your family and keeping your job may cause you to want to push through your pain, but this won’t make your problems go away. Stopping work is often the smartest decision for your long term health and well-being, and your disability benefits are there to provide you with financial support until you can return to work.
If you have made the tough decision to stop working and apply for your short term disability or long term disability benefits, you may feel overwhelmed by the process and have questions that your employer and your insurance company are not able or willing to answer. Share is There to see you through and answer your questions.
Our Disability law firm knows what you have been going through
We understand that things have not been easy for you over the last little while. Your health has been suffering, you are unable to work, and now your insurance company, who was supposed to be there in your time of need, has decided they will not pay your disability benefits or respect your disability claim. These benefits exist to provide you with the financial support you need so that you can focus on your health and rebuilding your life. It is unfortunate that your insurance company has not lived up to its promise. If your disability claim has been denied, we will fight to get you the benefits you are entitled to. Our disability lawyers have helped thousands of Canadians get their long term disability benefits over the past 35 years, and we can help you too.
Our experienced disability lawyers can fight back on your behalf
Share Lawyers believes that every client who is dealing with a disability claim deserves superior personal service. To achieve that goal, we have developed our team of experienced, compassionate, and caring long term disability lawyers, law clerks, and administrative staff to meet all of your needs. Our team of experienced long term disability, life insurance, employment, and critical illness insurance lawyers have made successful claims against many insurance companies, third-party administrators and employers.
If you are unable to work, your disability benefits should be there to provide you with the financial support you need. While your insurance company may be focused on finding ways to avoid paying your claim, our focus is on what is in your best interest. When Share Lawyers gets involved, you have an entire team of lawyers that are there to support you and to fight for what is yours.
Our disability claim lawyers fight for your disability insurance claim by relying on our many years of experience to apply the best strategic planning and approach in each case, using the latest technology available. Experience matters, and with Share Lawyers, you are in the best hands with 35 years of success on your side.
In this video, we explain the role of a long term disability lawyer and how we can support you when you have been denied your long term disability benefits.