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In the wake of Target closing its Canadian doors this month, we have had some of our employer clients asking about the pros and cons of working notice. The 17,600 employees of Target have received at least 16 weeks of notice each, but many will be expected to work all or part of those 16 weeks rather than receive a lump-sum payment. As reported in the news, many think they are not getting any “severance” at all.
To help clear up some of the misperceptions around working notice, here are three key points to consider:
The minimum standards set out in the various employment standards acts across Canada are just that: minimum standards. An employment contract and the courts can and often do expand those standards and require an employer to provide more notice or pay in lieu of notice upon termination.
While “working notice” may feel more like a punishment than any sort of generous settlement to some employees, other employees may be grateful that they can look for a new position while still appearing to be employed. Either way, unless there is a contractual agreement to do otherwise, working notice is a lawful way to provide notice in Canada. For more on the pros and cons of working notice, click here to read a past blog post I wrote on the topic.
As for the employees of the now insolvent Canadian Target, the fact that they are getting anything ahead of the secured creditors - working notice or not - is more than what most employees would get from an otherwise insolvent employer.
For additional updates, please visit Lisa Stam's blog, Employment and Human Rights Law in Canada
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