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Job losses continue amid an economic slowdown

Guelph employment lawyer Peter McSherry offers some advice to workers worried about losing their jobs

With the unemployment rate ticking up and talk of a looming recession, there are clear signals that the economy is beginning to slow. Canada lost 114,000 jobs in the past three months, attributed largely to rising interest rates as the Bank of Canada wrestles with high inflation.

The construction industry alone shed 28,000 jobs over the summer as developers put projects on pause because of a cooling housing market. It’s an indication rate hikes are beginning to bite.

Employees being laid off in the past few months are primarily young women and workers in their 50s and 60s. Peter McSherry, an employment lawyer in Guelph is anticipating that as the economy continues to slow, job losses will likely accelerate.

What should you do if you are terminated?

Peter McSherry says, “If you’re called into a meeting and your employment is being terminated, don’t sign anything during that meeting. Listen carefully and try to get whatever the employer is offering in writing.”

Most employers will give you a termination letter containing the package they are offering when they terminate an employee.

McSherry advises, “The first thing you should do is reach out to a knowledgeable employment lawyer to help you evaluate the package and to determine whether it’s fair.”

If you are feeling pressured to sign a release, or if your employer is withholding contractual entitlements until a release is signed, contact an employment lawyer as soon as possible. Employees are not required to sign any documentation immediately.

McSherry encourages employees to take the time to seek legal advice to understand what is being offered and what their rights are.

Don’t be surprised at a lowball offer

While the employee may feel that the initial offer is an insult, employers will often treat it as a starting point for negotiations.

They often don’t make their best offer upfront because they want to negotiate with an employee over the compensation and terms. McSherry says, “It creates an opportunity to go back and negotiate to get a fair settlement. I strongly encourage people, even if they think the package is fair to have it evaluated by a lawyer.”

Your confidence may be shattered, and if an employer is pleading poverty, you may feel you have no room to negotiate. McSherry stresses, “Just because the employer is facing tough economic times, that doesn’t mean they don’t need to provide compensation to their employees.”

Remain calm and non-committal and realize that these are business negotiations regarding fair compensation. McSherry says, “It’s important to be assertive about your rights and to ensure that you receive fair compensation.”

What to expect from an employment lawyer

An employment lawyer will examine the termination letter and the terms of any employment contracts that have been signed throughout the term of employment. McSherry would evaluate and determine how fair the offer is and whether there is an opportunity to negotiate a better package.

He would ask about the circumstances of employment, what might have led to the termination, and if there are any factors, other than the economy as to why the employee might have been terminated. McSherry has seen employers use bad economic times as an excuse to terminate employees they believe are a liability due to sickness and disabilities.

What to expect from a court

Courts consider a myriad of factors when determining an employee’s termination entitlements. They look at such things as:

  • The nature and character of the employment
  • Length of service
  • Age of employee
  • Likelihood of securing similar employment considering the employee’s experience, training, and qualifications

There may be dozens of possible factors which may influence an employee’s entitlements upon termination. McSherry says, “How likely is it that an employee will be rehired with similar employment in a bad economy? In the past couple of years people who’ve lost their jobs were able to find other employment relatively quickly, but that may not be the case going forward.”

It's important to contact an employment lawyer to ensure that you are receiving all the entitlements that you are owed, based on your set of circumstances. With a lawyer protecting your rights, a court will give an employee an opportunity to land on their feet and move on.

Termination happens to almost everyone at some point in their lives, but that does not make it any easier.

Over the past 25 years Peter McSherry has worked to protect the rights of thousands of terminated employees. It’s important to contact a legal professional who can determine if a termination was done legally and if there are opportunities to receive a better compensation package.

For more information contact Peter McSherry at (519) 821-5465 Email: [email protected] or visit him online here.