Wrongful Dismissal in Alberta: Issues with Employment Contracts
We are often surprised when we review employment contracts. Many organizations do not draft their employment agreements with legal advice. Many issues are not considered. Employees should have counsel carefully review their situation closely when they are fired, because often the employment contract (or lack thereof) often helps the employee more than the employer.
Employers should ideally have lawyers with employment law experience review their employment contracts.
Typically, employment contracts focus on the job, the position, the salary, the vacation days and issues like that. Most employment contracts that we have seen do not even consider severance. Below is a non-exhaustive list of issues we have come across.
Employment Standards in Alberta sets out a limit of 90 days for probation periods, so a probationary period should not be longer than that. Probation period language must be worded properly or severance may be owing.
Severance is often not considered. It is possible to limit severance to employment standards amounts as opposed to common law amounts, but this language must be drafted very precisely.
Signing the Contract After the Employment
If an employer wishes to rely on non-competition/non-solicitation provisions, they should have the contract signed at the time the employment agreement is entered into. The law of contract has a concept called consideration, meaning something of value must flow between the parties for it to be enforceable. The law says past consideration is not good consideration, so delays in preparing a contract can be fatal.
If you are an employee who needs to have an employment agreement reviewed, or if you have been terminated and want your contract reviewed please contact us. If you are an employer who is concerned about your employment contracts, we would be pleased to assist. Please contact us.
The information contained in this article is not legal advice. No solicitor client relationship is formed through this article. The reader is encouraged to retain counsel for advice in these matters.