Severance: What are you Owed?

Employment Law

Picture this: you walk into your job tomorrow and you are called into your bosses office. You are told that, unfortunately, you have to be let go. You are offered a severance package and asked to take some time to think it over.
You go back to your desk and you consider:

How long you have been at this job
Your age

Your position

Your salary

What your contract stated about termination, severance, and notice

Where else you’ll be able to find work

When you’re done thinking all this through, you wonder: how much severance am I owed? How does this compare to what I am being offered?

Now, if your initial thought is, “How am I supposed to know how much severance I’m owed?!” well, that’s where we come in!

Employment Standards Act & Common Law Severance

In British Columbia, most employees’ severance minimums are outlined in the Employment Standards Act. The minimum notice or pay in lieu of notice owed to the employee upon termination without cause must be stated in their contract and be in accordance with the ESA. Keep in mind though, this is just a minimum amount that cannot be contracted out of.

If the severance was not outlined in the employee’s contract (or there is no employment contract), then the severance will be determined according to what the courts have decided is reasonable. This is called reasonable severance or common law severance.

Reasonable severance differs from the employment standards legislation because it takes into account the factors listed in the introduction of this article: length of employment, age of employee, position and salary, opportunities through new employment, and any other factor that may affect the employee’s ability to find a new comparable position.

The common law severance will use these factors to compare your unique situation to other cases that have gone to court. Judicial decisions with similar factors will provide a good estimate for an appropriate severance owed to you under common law.

If It Sounds Complex, That’s Because It Is!

If you are terminated and offered a severance package, it is always a good idea to consult a lawyer to ensure you are being offered everything you are owed. And in this area of law in particular, having a lawyer to consider your unique situation and guide you towards the best severance estimate is the only way to ensure your severance is appropriate.
There are many factors to consider and cases to extrapolate from to arrive at a number that matches your circumstances. Our lawyers at Zacharias and Vickers are here to make the process quick and easy for you. Call at 604-392-8644 or email at info@zachariasvickers.com today.

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