When I tell people that I practice employment law, the response I often get is “oh, that’s interesting, do you do any real estate, or wills or family law”? The answer; absolutely not! I only practice labour and employment law. While that may not seem particularly useful to many at first blush, there are more reasons it is advantageous to work with an employment lawyer than you might think.
If you are an employee, here are 3 of the most common things an employment lawyer can do for you:
- Review your severance package when you are terminated from your job. Having your severance package reviewed by an employment lawyer could mean the difference between receiving eight weeks of pay and eight months of pay, depending on the circumstances.
- Review your employment contract before you start a new position. Having your employment contract reviewed by an employment lawyer at the outset can help you to avoid agreeing to provisions which may significantly limit your ability to accept new work in your field, or to continue working with the same clients after your employment ends. It can also help you ensure that you maximize your entitlements in the event your employer decides to terminate your employment in the future.
- Help you exit a toxic work environment. Employees are not required to endure a toxic work environment, whether it be as a result of harassment, discrimination, or other inappropriate workplace conduct. In the face of such a negative work environment, many employees feel they have no choice but resign. In fact, that is not always the case. An employment lawyer may be able to assist you in ending your employment relationship in a manner that sees you compensated for the toxic environment you have had to endure.
If you are an employer, here are 3 of the most common things an employment lawyer can do for you:
- Draft employment agreements for your employees. An employment agreement is only valuable if it is enforceable and well-drafted, and an employment lawyer can ensure that the agreements your organization is using meet both of those criteria. A properly drafted employment agreement helps ensure that the terms of the employment relationship are clearly articulated and can provide certainty regarding issues like termination entitlements and post-employment obligations (i.e. non-solicitation and non-competition obligations). An enforceable employment agreement and termination clause can also mean the difference between an employee being entitled to one week or several months worth of pay upon termination, depending on the circumstances.
- Draft policies for your workplace. Employers can, and should, set out expectations and limitations around employee conduct in the workplace, including in relation to issues like cannabis use, internet usage, harassment and conflicts of interest, to name a few. Without clear guidelines in place, employees may have significantly broader latitude than you think in relation to some of these issues.
- Provide advice regarding termination of employees. An employment lawyer can quickly review the circumstance surrounding an employee’s hiring, and/or firing, and provide advice on their termination package, including whether an employer is justified in terminating an employee for cause (i.e. without any notice or package). It may surprise some employers to know the severity of conduct required to justify a for cause termination (i.e. a nurse stealing narcotics from his/her employer may not be just cause).
This blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. It is always prudent to seek legal advice before making any decisions with respect to your own particular situation.