Top six things to do if you’ve been fired or laid off

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Top six things to do if you’ve been fired or laid off

In this blog article, we review six things you should do, from a legal perspective, if you’ve been fired or laid off.

1)       Don’t sign anything before you talk to a lawyer, but get what you’re owed under employment standards legislation!

Before you sign anything, arrange to see an employment and labour lawyer so you know your rights and your options.  Until then, make sure you’re getting the amounts you’re owed under employment standards legislation. For provincially regulated employers in BC, that’s the Employment Standards Act.  You don’t need to sign a release or agree to anything in order to get what you’re owed under employment standards legislation.  If you’re not a new employee and your employer isn’t saying that you were fired for cause, then you’re likely entitled to severance amounts owed to you for length of service – which, in BC, can amount to up to 8 weeks’ pay. (If you’re entitled to common law reasonable notice, you can be entitled to months of pay in lieu of notice, but you may have to go to see a lawyer and go to  court to enforce your rights.)

2)       Don’t talk to other people about your termination.

A big part of what an employer pays for is confidentiality when you settle.  Don’t make it less appealing for your employer to settle your claim by talking to everybody about how you were fired!

3)       Apply for Employment Insurance (“EI”) benefits.  If you’ve just lost your job, then you’ll want to get income again as quickly as you can. You can qualify for EI benefits if you weren’t terminated “for cause.” Even if your employer is saying they had cause to fire you, your employer isn’t the one who decides whether you get EI benefits or not.  An adjudicator will make that decision, not them.  Before you call Service Canada about EI benefits, though, it’s a good idea to talk to an employment and labour lawyer so you know what’s relevant and what questions you’ll be asked.

4)       Don’t breach your own obligations to your employer, such as confidentiality.  Employees often have obligations towards their employers even after they are let go.  Your employment contract will often spell these out, such as confidentiality provisions or an obligation to not approach your former employer’s clients or employees.  See an employment and labour lawyer about what your obligations are – and, in the meantime, don’t use employer business information or approach clients or other employees of the company.

5)       Think about references, and start your job search.  Getting fired or laid off is one of the most stressful experiences you can have, so take some time.  However, it’s good to get going on finding another job as soon as possible.  And reducing the amount of loss you experience because of getting fired – or “mitigation” – is a legal duty you’ll have as an employee if you’re going to look for damages in a wrongful dismissal suit.  So think about your references, start looking for a  job as soon as you can, and keep a record of your efforts for any future case.

6)       Go see an employment and labour lawyer.  It’s always smart to go see an employment and labour lawyer about your rights when you’ve lost your job. An employment and labour lawyer will let you know if your employer owes you money because of your dismissal, and set out your options so you know what choices you have to enforce those rights. Employment law can be a tricky area of law for lawyers to dabble in, so it’s always best to go to a lawyer and law firm that has lots of experience in employment and labour law.

This applies to non-unionized employees.  If you’re a unionized employee, then you need to see your union representative as soon as possible!  There are timelines you need to make in order to grieve, and they can be really short.

We also have an article here that talks about other practical steps you can take when you find out you’ve lost your job.

DISCLAIMER: The content of this article, and this website generally, is not intended as legal advice and cannot be relied upon as legal advice.  To provide legal advice on your problem, a lawyer must first understand your specific situation.

To book a consultation, please give us a call toll-free 1 (877) 708-8350 or locally 604-245-3169. You can also book a consultation online here.

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