An employment lawyer answers some of the most commonly asked questions about employment law and hiring a lawyer.
Employment law isn’t as straightforward as we’d all like it to be. As a working Canadian, it’s exceptionally crucial to know your rights and responsibilities as an employee. At Badre Law, we specialize in employment law, so we’ve compiled and answered some of the most common questions we get.
What is the difference between a ‘with cause’ and ‘without cause’ termination of employment?
When your employer terminates your employment due to your misconduct, that’s considered a termination ‘with cause.’ In contrast, a termination ‘without cause’ is when an employer has no valid reason for ending employment. It’s entirely legal for an employer to terminate an employee without cause. However, they must provide reasonable notice or pay in place of notice (also known as termination pay or severance pay).
What is wrongful dismissal?
Wrongful dismissal is when an employer terminates an employee without cause and does not provide reasonable notice or pay instead of notice. If you have any questions or concerns regarding a dismissal, it’s wise to contact an employment lawyer for further guidance.
How much notice do I have to give my employer before I resign?
As a general rule of thumb, you should provide your employer with two weeks of notice when resigning from your job. However, you should always reference your employment contract (if applicable) as it may outline a set amount of notice greater than two weeks.
Can my employer cancel my shift or schedule me at the last minute?
There are currently no laws that regulate scheduling in Ontario. Generally speaking, an employer can cancel a shift and make changes to your schedule even after it’s posted. However, when you have a set schedule outlined in your employment agreement (i.e., you work 9 am to 5 pm every day), any changes your employer attempts to make could result in a constructive dismissal.
What is constructive dismissal?
Constructive dismissal can occur when an employer wants or attempts to change an employment contract’s fundamental terms and conditions without the employee’s consent. It can also result from workplace conflict or when an employee resigns or is let go from their position for reasons beyond their control. Constructive dismissal is a very complex subject, so consulting an employment lawyer is highly recommended.
When am I entitled to overtime pay?
Under the Employment Standards Act (ESA), every worker in Ontario is entitled to time and a half (overtime pay) once they’ve exceeded 44 hours of work in a week. Overtime pay is applied for every additional hour worked in excess of that threshold. There are some industries and job functions that have exceptions to these provisions.
Can I collect employment insurance (EI) benefits after my employment is terminated?
If your employment was terminated due to your willful misconduct, you could not collect EI benefits. However, in cases of wrongful or constructive dismissal, you may be eligible. If you’re unsure about your eligibility, there’s no harm in applying – Service Canada staff will evaluate your application and determine whether or not you meet the criteria.
My employer didn’t present me with an employment contract; do I need one?
No, you don’t need an employment contract. Every employer must abide by (at the very minimum) all of the provisions outlined in the ESA. When there’s no employment contract, refer to the ESA for any questions regarding your terms and conditions of employment.
Can my employer discipline me for refusing unsafe work or exercising my rights?
No, your employer cannot fire you or discipline you for exercising your rights as outlined in the ESA.
How much notice am I entitled to when my employer wishes to terminate my employment?
When you’re terminated with cause, your employer doesn’t owe you any notice or severance. When you’re terminated without cause, you’re entitled to a minimum of at least one week of notice for every year you’ve worked or pay in lieu of notice (severance). Depending on your employment agreement and other factors, you may be entitled to more notice. An employment lawyer can help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Can my employer pay me less than minimum wage?
The minimum wage is the lowest legal wage that an employer can pay. There is more than one minimum wage rate (e.g., general, student, liquor servers). Generally speaking, no – your employer cannot pay you less than minimum wage. Similar to other laws, there are some exemptions, so it’s crucial to do industry-specific research beforehand.
Where can I find more information about my employment rights?
For more information regarding your employment rights and responsibilities, you can reference:
- The Employment Standards Act
- The Canada Labour Code
- The Canadian Human Rights Act
- The Pay Equity Act or Employment Equity Act
- The Occupational Health and Safety Act
- The Labour Relations Act
- Our articles and blogs related to employment rights
When do I need to hire an employment lawyer?
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re having issues with your employment, it may be time to contact an employment lawyer. Some examples of cases that an employment lawyer can help with include:
- When you’re being harassed or discriminated against in the workplace or during the hiring process
- When your employer doesn’t provide you with reasonable notice or pay in lieu of notice when they terminate you without cause.
- If your employer violates The Canada Labour Code or the ESA.
- Reviewing and negotiating employment contracts
- Wage-related issues
- Wrongful or constructive dismissal
If you’re unsure if an employment lawyer can help you in your specific situation, there’s no harm in inquiring. Most lawyers offer free consultations, and they’ll be happy to take a look at your case and help you wherever they can or point you in the right direction.