key employee incentive plan

The Supreme Court of Canada will decide if an employee is entitled to payments owed in the event of a corporate acquisition despite the fact that the employee resigned over a year before the triggering event. On January 31, 2019, the SCC granted leave to appeal in Matthews v. Ocean Nutrition Canada Limited. The employee asserts that he is entitled to over $1 million in profits following the acquisition of his former employer – even though he had resigned 13 months before the transaction. If the SCC decides in the employee’s favour, employers may face more challenges (and increased litigation) when seeking to enforce limiting clauses in employment agreements.
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KERPs (Key Employee Retention Plans) and KEIPs (Key Employee Incentive Plans), otherwise referred to as “pay to stay” compensation plans, are commonly offered by employers to incent key employees to remain with the company during an insolvency restructuring proceeding when so-called “key employees” may be tempted to find more stable employment elsewhere. However, courts will carefully scrutinize these plans because there are multiple competing interests as well as the overall policy objective of maximizing recoveries from the restructuring which can be diluted through overly generous incentive plans. Employers who are contemplating restructuring under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act  (CCAA) should be aware of the framework for assessing KERPs or KEIPs recently established by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
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