What is wrongful dismissal?
Wrongful dismissal occurs when an individual’s employment is terminated without cause and without reasonable notice.
Most employees are hired on an indefinite contract of employment, meaning there is no fixed end date to their employment. If their employer wants to terminate their employment, the employer must provide the employee with reasonable notice, or pay in lieu of reasonable notice.
What is considered reasonable notice of termination?
The obligation to provide reasonable notice is part of every employment contract unless the contract states otherwise. The purpose of reasonable notice is to give employees a fair opportunity to obtain a new position instead of abruptly terminating employment and hindering their ability to support themselves and their dependants.
Notice can take the form of any communication by the employer to the employee that the employee will no longer be employed by the employer.
The amount of reasonable notice depends on a variety of factors, including the character of employment, the length of service, age of the employee, and the availability of similar employment.
In Alberta, employment agreements commonly limit the requirement to provide reasonable notice and limit notice to the minimums established by Alberta’s Employment Standards Code. The amount notice required by the common law is normally much greater than the minimums provided for under the Code.
What is considered reasonable pay in lieu of notice?
The amount of reasonable pay in lieu of notice depends on a variety of factors, including the character of employment, the length of service, age of the employee, and the availability of similar employment.
Payment in lieu of notice is not limited to base salary, and can also include compensation for bonuses, commissions, pension benefits, pay for vacation days, and loss of medical benefits.
Cashion Legal also works on severance pay law disputes to help our clients get the compensation they deserve.
Frequently asked questions about wrongful dismissal
We always encourage employees to speak with an employment lawyer before signing a release. In our experience employers almost always grant extensions on the deadlines for signing releases.
While there are certain rights that employees have that independent contractors do not have, many times employers will improperly classify their employees and independent contractors to avoid respecting these rights, meaning you may actually be entitled to these privileges.
If your employment is terminated without cause and without advance notice, then you are entitled to pay in lieu of notice (commonly referred to as severance pay). If your employer had just cause to terminate your employment, then you are not entitled to severance.
A tightly-worded employment agreement can limit your entitlement to severance to the mandatory minimums available under Alberta’s Employment Standards Code. However, very specific wording is required. We recommend reviewing your agreement with an employment lawyer to get a better sense of how it might impact severance.
Calculation of severance pay depends on a variety of factors and may be limited by your employment agreement. It’s best to work with an employment lawyer to determine what fair severance might be based on the specifics of your circumstances.
Severance packages are designed to provide financial and other benefits to employees who are being terminated or laid off. By reviewing your severance package, you can gain a clear understanding of what you are entitled to receive. This includes information about the amount of severance pay, continuation of benefits, outplacement assistance, stock options, and other compensation or benefits.
It is crucial to review your severance package before you sign it. Sometimes employers will place deadlines on when your severance package needs to be signed, but these deadlines can be extended upon request.