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1. Seek Professional Legal Advice

It is important to be mindful of the fact that layoffs and terminations of employment are not the same things. While they can be easily confused, layoffs and terminations are two distinct legal concepts and the category in which you fall can have serious implications in terms of your rights. 

While a layoff signals a potential return to work, a termination of employment means that employment has come to a permanent end.  

Don’t assume that your employer has the right to trigger a layoff. Rather, you may be entitled to termination pay to support you in finding alternative employment.

2. Carefully Measure Risks Against Potential Rewards

In a market where there is job insecurity and no clear direction in the labour market, it is critical to sharpen one’s ability to assess risk and reward. 

Specifically, it is particularly important at times like these to use resources as effectively as possible. Therefore, if you have rights to pursue, pursue them. If your employer owes you compensation, seek that compensation. If there is an opportunity to benefit from an offer of support, then do so. 

Having said this, and while every investment carries risk, it is important to decide as to what to pursue based on intelligent advice, so you are certain that the resources you are investing are worth the potential outcome.   

3. Prepare for Contingencies

While it is good to see that the Canadian government is signaling a willingness to directly assist residents during this crisis, it is far from certain that this will be enough to support employees through what will almost certainly be an extraordinarily difficult time.   

A good example is the Employment Insurance (EI) program. As it currently stands, EI only replaces 55% of previous income to a maximum of $573.00 per week. Therefore, the harsh reality is that this means individuals who are laid off may be forced to make do with a maximum of approximately $2,300.00 per month (possibly even less after taxes) to meet ongoing needs. 

Further, this amount will only be available to (1) people who qualify for EI and (2) who earned at least $54,000.00 prior to the layoff. Therefore, a substantial portion of the population will need to be prepared for support of less than $2,000.00 or less per month. 

4. Maintain a Good Relationship With Your Employer

Losing employment (even if temporarily) is tremendously stressful, particularly when job prospects appear sparse. An employee could therefore be forgiven for not having positive feelings about their employer. 

But don’t go down the negativity trail. Even if solely for self-preservation, do everything you can to maintain a positive relationship with your employer. You might be surprised at the goodwill you can elicit during this time and any related support could be key to maximizing the chance that you are reintegrated to the workplace and/or successfully transitioned to alternative employment. 

5. Take Care of Yourself and Those Around You

The COVID-19 outbreak that we are dealing with is extraordinary, rapidly evolving, and tremendously stressful. What’s worse, no one can know for certain when things will take a turn for the better.

While the above steps are important, your health is of paramount importance. There are two important reasons for this. First, COVID-19 represents a serious health risk to not just you but also to friends, family members and your fellow citizens. Second, maintaining your health is critical not only for general safety reasons but also to ensure that you have the strength and wherewithal needed to successfully manage the challenges ahead. 

If you have any questions as a result of a wrongful dismissal or unjust dismissal due to COVID-19, please contact Toronto employment lawyers Sultan Lawyers by emailing mlahert@sultanlawyers.com or here.

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