Being laid off does not make it any easier for an employee to realize what his/her rights are or what next steps should be taken. Many employees believe severance packages are non-negotiable and that after their dismissal they are only entitled to what the employer offers. This amount is usually no more than their statutory right to severance, found in employment standards legislation; so they sign whatever they are given.
Should you simply sign whatever has been offered?
Often, employers offer what they believe employees will accept, not what they are actually entitled to, because they know that statistically most employees will be happy to get anything at all. So, it is always wise to ask for more!
Then again, can the employer then change their mind about their offer and refuse to pay, when an employee asks for more? Toronto Employment Lawyer, Daniel Lublin has recently answered a similar question in his Globe and Mail article Can my ex-employer refuse to pay severance?
Advice on employers refusing severance
He says if your employer refused to pay your severance, it makes your case against them even stronger.
Mr. Lublin explains that when you are laid off without cause, employment standards legislation states that you are automatically entitled to a statutory severance payment based on your tenure. This is not something that can be taken away, and it is not negotiable. Even if negotiations are cut off, these payments must still be made, and they must be made immediately following your termination.
When it comes to long serving employees, the statutory amounts should never be overlooked and employers are required to provide a more generous severance package than what is required by employment standards legislation.
Will the courts help if your employer refused to pay severance?
Courts usually have sympathy when it comes to long-term employees, especially if the employer is not playing by the rules. In any case, the only way you might end up with nothing at all is if you let your ex-employer take advantage of you.
If you have been terminated and want to know if your offer is fair, the best decision you can make is to contact an employment lawyer who can explain and guide you through your negotiation process, making sure that your entitlements are maximized.