Q. Q. I was offered a severance package that I don’t think is fair. I have been with this company for 17 years and have received about half of my severance pay. There is a date that indicates when the compensation option expires if I do not accept it. Can my employer take my severance payment if I do not accept the offer? And what are the next steps for me if I want a fairer offer / money package before I sign the bottom line? I don’t want to be left without work and no severance pay.
ON. I am asked this by almost every customer who comes in so that I can check a severance package with them.
Assuming you are in Ontario, it may make sense to first say that part of what you are offering is based on your minimum legal requirements as defined in the Employment Standards Act. These minimum requirements are not negotiable. By minimum amounts, I mean that your offer must not be less than these amounts. As a rule, the package says something like this: If you do not accept our offer, we will only pay you the minimum amounts of the Employment Standards Act.
Regarding what you are entitled to above these minimum amounts, I would first like to say that your rights are the same, regardless of whether it is the day before the cut-off date or the day after the cut-off date, and employers know this .
The purpose of these deadlines is usually to get employees to process their severance offers in a timely manner – not that employers really think they won’t be paid for you because you haven’t returned to them within the desired four-day window.
I cannot promise that your employer will not cancel your offer if you do not respond on time, but I can tell you that it does not make much sense. When I am working for an employer in this situation, I usually tell them that withdrawing such an offer only means that the employee is getting a lawyer to make his claim. I will invest more time in his file to deal with the employee’s lawyer. In the end, the employer pays what he initially offered (assuming it was a reasonable offer), in addition to the legal costs incurred Workers have now emerged, and are also paying the additional fees that he would have incurred out of me when the matter dragged on.
If you want to play nicely, which is always a good idea in such a situation, just send an email to your employer informing them that you are considering the offer or trying to find a lawyer to provide legal advice received, and want a short extension. Most employers won’t have a problem with this, and you’ll have extra time to get legal advice without worrying that your deadline won’t be met.
Scott Hawryliw is a civil lawyer with SRH Litigation in Barrie, Ont. He helps customers with Legal Problems related to injuries, employment and business problems that can be addressed at [email protected]
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