Wrongful Dismissal 101: What to do if you lose your job

Regardless of what you call it - 'losing your job', 'being laid off' or 'being fired', having your employment terminated is a stressful and upsetting event.

If it does happen, however, you need to put a plan in place. The following 10 tips will help you navigate and take control of this difficult situation. 

  1. Remain polite and courteous: 
    This can be much harder said than done. When you get fired, you may feel angry, sad, betrayed, fearful, rejected, resentful, relieved - or perhaps a mix of everything. Despite this, you need to stay calm and professional in your dealings with your former employer - take the high road. Conduct yourself with class and leave with your head high.
  2. Return all company-owned property: 
    During your employment you may have been provided with keys, a parking pass, confidential documents, a laptop or smartphone. If this applies to you, the company will likely request an immediate return of these items. Comply with this request in good faith. Do not provide any reason to the employer to allege that you have stolen its property or are unreasonable to deal with.
  3. Ensure you have a copy of your employment contract and the termination letter: 
    If you signed a written employment contract at any time before or during your employment relationship, make sure that you have a copy of it before you leave your employer's premises for the last time. The same applies to a copy of any subsequent termination letter. These documents are critical to determining the damages to which you are legally entitled.
  4. Do not sign anything: 
    Often employers request that upon termination, employees sign a 'Full & Final Release'. This document effectively tries to release the employer from any claims you may have. Do not sign this document until you have had the opportunity to review with a lawyer.
  5. Speak to a lawyer: 
    Reaching out to a lawyer can seem scary. The reality is, however, that a qualified employment lawyer will be able to quickly assess your situation and advise as to your rights and whether the employer has treated you fairly.
  6. Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits: 
    Apply for EI benefits as soon as possible. Your employer must provide your Record of Employment to you within 5-days of your last pay period - so make sure you have this too.
  7. Learn your entitlements under the Employment Standards Act
    In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act requires employers to pay termination and severance pay when they fire an employee. This is a legal obligation that cannot be negotiated or bargained for - they must pay it. This amount, however, is a bare minimum, and often you can be entitled to much more.
  8. Learn about reasonable notice: 
    Absent clear wording in your employment contract that limits your entitlements to bare minimums under the Employment Standards Act, you must be provided reasonable notice of termination, or pay in lieu thereof. To assess the appropriate period of reasonable notice for which you should be paid, factors like your age, length of service and the nature of your job are relevant. Reasonable notice can significantly increase your entitlement to payment on termination.
  9. Mitigate loss of income: 
    When you are fired, you have an obligation to look for a new job to reduce your loss of income. So, set aside time and fix up your CV, look online and in print for a new job, reach out to contacts in your industry for help and referrals and maybe consider setting up something like a Linkedin profile. Also, keep a record of any jobs that you do apply for, to show your efforts in this regard.
  10. Move forward: 
    This is a difficult time in your life, but move forward from it. Take care of yourself - keep a regular routine, eat healthily and exercise. Try to use this as an opportunity to find a new and better job. 

If you have recently lost your job and want to discuss your options, please contact us directly at: 613-238-4430 or info@vwlawyers.ca.