In instances of termination without cause, being aware of your rights and legal standings, such as receiving adequate notice or pay and understanding your employee benefits, becomes important.
Losing your job can be stressful, especially when it’s not your fault. This leaves you with lots of questions and important decisions to make. Usually, when you’re let go from your job, your employer will ask you to sign some papers. As an employee, you should know what your rights and duties are and what’s expected of you. This article is a guide for Ontario employees in this situation, explaining your rights, what it all means, and what to do after you’re let go without a reason.
What Does It Mean to Be Terminated Without Cause?
Being terminated without cause in Ontario employment law means losing your job not because of misconduct or poor performance, but possibly due to company restructuring, downsizing, or external factors.
Is it possible to be terminated without cause in Ontario?
Before we delve into the discussion about termination without cause in Ontario, let’s first clarify whether it’s legal to terminate an employee without cause. In short, yes, it is legal. Employers in Ontario have the authority to end an employee’s employment without specifying a reason. However, they must provide advance notice or offer compensation in lieu of notice when terminating the employee.
It’s important to note that there are constraints on an employer’s ability to terminate without cause. Employers cannot terminate employees for discriminatory reasons as outlined in the Ontario Human Rights Code, as a retaliation for employees asserting certain rights like the right to a safe work environment under the Ontario Health and Safety Act, or in exceptionally problematic situations. In such instances, the termination is considered illegal, and you may be eligible for compensation.
Is it possible to qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) if I’ve experienced a termination without cause?
Typically, EI is accessible to employees who have been terminated without cause. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that EI eligibility varies based on employment status. Independent contractors, for instance, are not eligible for EI benefits, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the end of their working relationship. If you don’t fall under the category of workers excluded from EI due to your employment type, it’s highly likely that you are entitled to EI benefits in the event of a termination without cause.
Legal Implications and Employee Rights
In instances of termination without cause, being aware of your rights and legal standings, such as receiving adequate notice or pay and understanding your employee benefits, becomes important. Employers are legally obligated to either provide notice before letting you go or pay you for a certain period post-termination.
Employers typically prepare a package which includes;
- Written confirmation of termination
- Monetary offer
- Detailed instructions related to your benefits and pension plan
- Release document: This document asserts that you will not pursue legal action against your employer for issues related to your employment or its termination.
Do I need to sign the termination paperwork that my employer has given me right away?
The short answer is no. Employers will often give employees a few days, or a week, to review the documents and sign them. It is in everyone’s interest for you to understand what you are signing and how it will impact you. It is important for you to understand your rights has an employee. It is recommended that you consult with an employment lawyer so they can explain you the legal requirements.
Things get complicated if you sign without understanding the impact it will have on you. Having said that, you should speak with a lawyer if you have signed a termination package and release but now want to sue your employer. There are some circumstances where this is still possible, but it is very fact dependent. A couple of things that may lead a court to find a release invalid are that you signed under duress or that you were not given the chance to get independent legal advice.