Employee rights don’t end with the employment contract

Upon termination of employment, employees probably have legal rights to more than what their employers say they do (and oftentimes, to more than their contract says they do…).

Under Ontario law, workers typically have two important sets of rights: (1) rights under the Employment Standards Act, 2000; and, (2) rights that judges agree that workers get in certain situations (called “common law” rights).

Why does this matter?

Because Employers might not offer the full package of what an employee is entitled to under the law. And sometimes, employees are entitled to more than what’s written in their employment contract. A lawyer will be able to assist in making this determination.

For example, in Wood v Fred Deley, the Ontario Court of Appeal found that an employee was entitled to more than what their employment contract said they should get. There, the employment contract had a termination clause which the employer had followed. However, the clause was not enforceable because it violated the employee’s rights under the Employment Standards Act, 2000. As a result, the employee was entitled to their “common law” rights (discussed above, “(2)”). In this case, the employee received 9 months’ worth of pay and benefits – representing the notice period that the Employer was required to provide to this particular individual.

The takeaway?

Employees: reach out to a lawyer before you decide to just “let it go” like Queen Elsa from Frozen.

Employers: Understand your employees’ legal rights before drafting their contracts or terminating their employment.

Disclaimer: This article is provided as an information resource. This article should not be relied upon to make decisions and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified legal professional. In all cases, contact your legal professional for advice on any matter referenced in this document before making decisions. Any use of this document does not constitute a lawyer-client relationship. Please note that this information is current only to the date of posting. The law is constantly changing and always evolving. I encourage you to reach out with any specific questions.