Termination of Employment

Employers commonly receive calls from Employment Insurance (EI) Officers seeking clarification of the information provided by the employer in a Record of Employment (ROE). The clarification or confirmation typically relates to the employee’s first / last day worked, insurable hours, insurable earnings and / or the reason for issuing the ROE (Block 16).

Employers who

This is part two in our series on recent Ontario Superior Court decisions that employers should be aware of before finalizing future employment agreements. See here for our first part, on the recent trend of lengthy notice period awards for long service employees of advanced age.

As most employers know, unenforceable termination clauses often give rise to costly wrongful dismissal claims. Yet the case law in this area is constantly evolving, and it is increasingly challenging to stay abreast of what a court will consider to be enforceable.
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This is the first of our two-part series on recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decisions that employers need to be aware of before finalizing their next employment agreement. The decisions highlight the risk of failing to include an enforceable termination provision in the employment agreement. Absent such a provision, an employee dismissed without cause will be entitled to “reasonable notice” of termination at common law.

In this first part, we examine two recent decisions of the Court that suggest that the Court now favours longer notice periods for long service employees of advanced age: Dawe v Equitable Life Insurance Company, 2018 ONSC 3130 (Dawe) and Saikaly v Akman Construction Ltd., 2019 ONSC 799 (Saikaly). Until recently, 24 months was generally considered as the upper limit of notice entitlement that courts would award absent exceptional circumstances.
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Although brevity is almost always better than wordiness, it would have been better if the legislature had used a few more words in the severance pay provisions of Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000. Under the ESA, employers with a payroll of at least $2.5 million are required to provide statutory severance pay when dismissing an employee with 5 or more years of service. Unfortunately the provision is silent as to whether payroll within Ontario or, rather, global payroll is determinative. It would have been helpful if the drafters had indicated where, exactly, to draw the line.

The pendulum has swung back and forth on this issue. Most recently, the Ontario Labour Relations Board (“OLRB”) held that Ontario-only payroll is determinative, diverging from the direction previously taken by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. We outline the key cases to date below.
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To ring in the New Year, we highlight the ten most significant developments in Canadian labour and employment law in 2018.
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On August 2, 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada refused the plaintiff’s leave application in Krishnamoorthy v Olympus Canada Inc, 2017 ONCA 873. As such, the Ontario Court of Appeal’s ruling still stands. The ONCA held that a purchaser of assets of a business is free to offer employment on new terms to employees

The Ontario Superior Court recently pronounced that alleged acts of workplace sexual harassment, including alleged incidents occurring in the workplace, are not connected to employment but are separate matters: Watson v. The Governing Council of the Salvation Army of Canada. Further, the Court held that the employer’s release did not bar claims based on these allegations.
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Last week, the Ontario Court of Appeal released yet another decision on the interpretation and enforceability of termination clauses: Amberber v. IBM Canada Ltd., 2018 ONCA 571. Recent appellate decisions on this issue have been inconsistent and/or provided less than clear guidelines, see here, here, here and here. In contrast, Amberber is a bright spot for employers. The Court not only reaffirmed the principle that termination clauses must be interpreted as a whole, but also held that courts should not strain to create an ambiguity where none exists.
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Employers who include discretionary bonuses as part of their employees’ compensation packages should be aware of the Ontario Court of Appeal’s latest guidance on (i) bonus entitlement for the period up to dismissal and (ii) compensation for the loss of a bonus during the reasonable notice period. This guidance came in the Court’s decision, issued last week, in Singer v. Nordstrong Equipment Limited, 2018 ONCA 364. Our analysis of the lower court’s decision in this case can be found here
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A recent decision of the Alberta Court of Appeal adds further confusion to the issue of the enforceability of termination clauses. In Holm v AGAT Laboratories Ltd, 2018 ABCA 23 (“Holm“), the Alberta Court of Appeal (“Court”) held that explicit language must be included in a termination clause to oust an employee’s common law rights.
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