But Employment (Labour) Standards Said ……

This is one of the most frequent phrases heard by Employment lawyers. The phrase is uttered by employers who have terminated employees without cause have given only the notice (or pay) required under the Employment Standards Act (the “Act”). That should be the end of the matter. Right?

Wrong. The notice provisions in the Act are the minimum standard. There are two very important other issues:

  1. The common law (law arising from past decisions) supplements the minimum standard. The maximum notice period is thought to be 24 months for the most extreme cases. There are many factors affecting the notice period including:  age, length of service, importance of position, and availability of alternate employment.
  2. Breaches of an employee’s human rights by discrimination on the basis of age, sex, religion, etc. are not excused by giving the notice required by the Act.

Most dispensers of advice employed by government agencies are not legally trained. When consulted on the telephone they usually give advice applicable only to the legislation they administer. Another common example of confusion between legislation and law is the assumption that a denial of Employment Insurance benefits on the basis of just cause means that no severance pay is payable. This is not the case as the Employment Standards Branch and the Courts are not bound by such determinations and they may come to different conclusions.

Alf Kempf practices Labour and Employment Law at Pushor Mitchell. You can contact him at [email protected]

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