Even at the best of times, losing your job can be stressful. When it happens in times of recession, it becomes even more so as opportunities for alternative employment may be limited.

If you’ve lost your job either temporarily or permanently in Alberta, there are certain steps you can take to mitigate the consequences.

Here we discuss the best steps to take to move on to the next opportunity after losing your job – but first, let us consider the three ways that you can lose your job in Alberta.

TEMPORARY LAYOFF OFF IN ALBERTA

Many Canadians have faced a temporary layoff this year – but what does it mean and what are your rights if it has happened to you?

If your employer simply does not have work for you, a temporary layoff is a type of compromise: you are laid off but may be called back to work with one week’s notice.

Under Alberta’s employment law, you must be informed in writing of the layoff. The working relationship can be maintained for 60 days after this but the termination will become permanent if the layoff continues after this period – and you are then entitled to termination pay.

If recalled, you must return to work within seven days of the written notice.

If there are special circumstances or a collective union agreement, these terms may be slightly different and the temporary layoff period can be extended beyond 60 days.

TERMINATION WITHOUT CAUSE IN ALBERTA

If you are terminated without cause in Alberta, you are protected by the employment laws and must receive either adequate notice or payment in lieu of notice.

In most instances, the minimum amount of notice or pay you are entitled to depend largely on your length of service (time of continuous employment):

  • Three months to two years: one week’s notice or pay

  • Two to four years: two weeks’ notice or pay

  • Four to six years: four weeks’ notice or pay

  • Six to eight years: five weeks’ notice or pay

  • Eight to ten years: six weeks’ notice or pay

  • Ten years or more: eight weeks’ notice or pay

In certain circumstances, you may not be entitled to notice or severance pay – for instance, if you have been employed for less than three months.

Also, your employment contract may specify a different notice period. Note that this cannot legally be less than the minimum notice periods specified by Alberta employment law and outlined above.

DISMISSAL IN ALBERTA

If your employer dismisses you on behavioural grounds, the employment law guidelines must be followed to be considered a legal termination.

Dismissal with cause

In cases of serious misconduct (e.g. sexual harassment, theft, fraud, unexplained absenteeism, etc.), an employer may be able to dismiss you without paying severance pay or providing reasonable notice.

Wrongful dismissal

Wrongful dismissal claims happen when an employee is unfairly terminated – perhaps because of a dispute over a claim of just cause for termination or because an adequate amount of notice was not provided by the employer according to Alberta’s employment guidelines.

Constructive dismissal

This occurs when an employer substantially changes the terms of employment (e.g. a reduction in wages or a significant change of hours) leading to employee resignation. In some cases, if there are grounds to believe that the employee was “forced out”, it can result in a lawsuit.

WHAT TO DO FIRST AFTER LOSING YOUR JOB IN ALBERTA

Whether you have been temporarily laid off, terminated without cause, or dismissed, the following steps can help protect your rights, seek compensation if applicable, and move on with your life.

Negotiate your severance package

Rather than just accepting the first severance package presented to you by your employer, try negotiating the terms.

Often, your circumstances warrant more than the minimum severance package, especially if you have served the company for many years and face difficulties in finding alternative employment.

Here are a few pointers before signing any documentation:

  • Research how much you are due according to the minimums for layoffs/terminations/dismissals (your legal rights)

  • Consider the other benefits that you may be due (e.g. medical, dental, and insurance benefits, as well as pension options)

  • Request that your employer help you find a new job (via outplacement support)

  • Get legal advice from an experienced employment lawyer

  • Think about allowing your lawyer to negotiate the terms of your severance agreement

Don’t just expect your employer to provide a fair package. Often, they will try to “lowball” you, so understanding your rights and the benefits you are entitled to be important to get what you are legally due.

Obtain your ROE from your employer

Make sure that you obtain a record of employment (ROE) from your employer as you will need this to claim employment insurance.

You may be able to retrieve your record online (with Service Canada) or retrieve a hard copy from your employer.

This is normally made available within five days of being paid for the last time by your employer – but you may have to follow up and check with them. Contact Service Canada if your ROE is not made available within 14 days of the last payment.

Get a reference from your employer

Most employers will happily provide a good reference if you left on reasonable terms.

Make sure that you get this as soon as possible after you leave your ex-employer as it may help you secure a new position elsewhere.

Apply for EI within four weeks

After you leave your employment, you need to file for EI within four weeks to avoid losing out on benefits.

You can apply before you have your ROE and even if you’re still receiving money from your former employer. It’s best to apply even if you think you may not be eligible.

Make a budget

Losing your job can create financial difficulties no matter what your circumstances are. Everyone has bills to pay.

Make a budget so that you can plan for upcoming expenses and cut down expenditure wherever possible until you’re back on your feet.

Focus on the big areas like mortgage and loan repayments and be upfront with creditors about your situation.

If you receive a pension or severance payout, get financial advice from your investment advisor or accountant on how best to use this money so you maximize its impact and minimize taxes.

LOST YOUR JOB AND NOT SURE WHAT TO DO?

If you have lost your job in Alberta, you should now understand more about what your options are.

If you think that you may have a case for wrongful dismissal, contact a Taylor Janis employment lawyer as soon as possible.

We can advise you of your options during a confidential 30-minute telephone or video consultation.