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Laid off from work?

If you have been permanently laid off from work, you may be entitled to additional compensation over and above your entitlement under the Employment Standards Act.

The Employment Standards Act sets out the minimum requirements for employees in British Columbia, however, it does not cover every issue, workplace or type of work.

For example, WorkSafeBC is responsible for workplace safety and injuries, but can also award compensation for claims for bullying and harassment. Courts may award additional compensation for wrongful dismissal over and above what is set out in the Employment Standards Act, and the Human Rights Tribunal deals with compensation for human rights discrimination.

The minimum amount of severance pay provided by the Employment Standards Act is: one weeks’ pay after three months of work, two weeks’ pay after twelve months, three weeks’ pay after three years’ service, with one additional week per year of service capping at eight weeks. However, employees may be entitled to more depending on the terms of their employment contracts.

It is an implied term of every employment contract that absent express language, employment can be ended at any time upon the employer providing reasonable notice of dismissal, or compensation in lieu of notice, as long as the reasons for the dismissal are not discriminatory in nature.

If an employer does not provide reasonable notice of dismissal, this is called “wrongful dismissal”, but it is not ending employment itself that is “wrongful”, it is the failure to provide reasonable notice of dismissal.

If there is no employment contract in place which may limit an employee’s entitlement to reasonable notice of dismissal, then a Court may have to determine what is reasonable under the circumstances. Courts will consider several factors including the employee’s age, length of service, position (management or not) and the availability of equivalent, comparable employment.

Employers are not required to provide notice where there is “just cause” for ending employment. In these circumstances, the employment contract may be terminated without any notice or compensation in lieu of notice.

If you have been offered a severance package, it is critical that you seek legal advice before accepting and signing a release of claims. After you sign a release of claims, you will no longer be able to start a legal claim against your employer for additional compensation or severance pay.

Davidson Lawyers – advice you can rely on.


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Kelsey Wheelhouse

Kelsey Wheelhouse

Associate Lawyer

Kelsey is a litigation lawyer with an extensive understanding of employment, labour and human rights law. She is a frequent presenter on workplace-related matters and a regular contributor to the Globe and Mail’s workplace column “Nine to Five”.

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Davidson Lawyers LLP advises in over 15 areas of law, Employment Law and Wrongful Dismissal being one of them. Learn more about this area of expertise and find the lawyer that's right for you.

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