For most people, time spent working, accounts for most of their waking hours. Work-related issues can feel overwhelming. Your job and compensation directly impact your and your family’s future. When something goes wrong, the worker is often at a power disadvantage. Advocating for yourself is complex and stressful. A compassionate and knowledgeable employment lawyer can help you reduce stress and make the right decisions.
Employment issues can include:
- Contracts – reviewing and negotiating for a new job or interpreting on termination
- Wrongful dismissal or discrimination
- Employment insurance benefits
- Workers compensation
- Financial help for people with disabilities
In British Columbia, the Employment Standards Act (the Act) creates minimum standards for employment. Parties can agree to higher standards, but they cannot agree to lower standards.
- Cannot dismiss an employee without just cause or reasonable notice
- Must not force an employee to take a demotion without proper notice or cause, and
- Must not act in bad faith when dismissing an employee.
An employee must:
- Attend work
- Perform their work competently
- Carry out the employer's legal orders
- Serve their employer honestly, and
- Not create a conflict of interest.
When you accept a job offer, you are entering into an agreement with your employer, even if you don’t have a written contract.
Your employer may want you to sign a written contract that helps spell out things like time and location of work, vacation and notice in the event you are terminated. Your employer may also want to try to specify conditions around overtime or limit what you can claim if you are fired. Written contracts may help both parties avoid future disputes about the terms of the job.
It is critical you understand everything in a written contract. The employer can require you to sign the contract in order to get the job. Once it is signed, it is binding between the parties unless it is contrary to the Act or other laws. In order to fully understand the contract and what it could mean for your future, you may want legal help.
Also, contracts may contain terms that are not legal or enforceable. Employees are not permitted to give up certain rights. So, the contract may not apply even if you reviewed it and signed it. Employees cannot give up:
- Minimum standards in the Act.
- Health and Safety standards.
- Workers’ Compensation benefits.
A workplace situation that is unfair or hostile can impact our lives deeply, with negative physical and psychological effects.
People have the right to be treated fairly in workplaces free from discrimination. The Canadian Human Rights Act is legislation that prohibits discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity and other grounds. Also, Canada's Employment Equity Act and the Federal Contractors Program require employers to take active measures to improve the employment opportunities for specific groups of people in our country.
Generally, parties to an employment relationship can end their relationship at any time. Forcing employment between parties is bad for everyone, and courts will generally not force continued employment.
So, wrongful dismissal often comes down to reasonable notice (or payment instead of notice). How much severance are you entitled to? It’s complicated. If the employer had just cause (employee has done something very incompatible with employment), they can terminate without notice. If not, they can’t.
If you believe you need a qualified attorney’s help with your legal problem, you can book a free 15-minute meeting now. Connect with the lawyer via video chat, have them assess your case and provide you with options to move forward.