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Have you Been Fired Or Laid Off In BC?

Inflation and interest rate hikes are sparking recession concerns in Canada. Understandably, some workers fear losing their jobs because of economic uncertainty. Many businesses plan to reduce their workforces, while others have already laid off employees. If you are afraid of getting laid off in BC, it may help to know the protections and resources available to you as an employee.

Losing Your Job

Losing your job for any reason can be a traumatic experience. However, many of us have experienced a loss of employment at least once throughout our working lives. Employers have many reasons for terminating staff, the most common being:

  • An economic downturn.
  • Replacing employees with technology.
  • Going out of business.
  • Seasonal work.
  • The company is sold to new owners.
  • Poor job performance.

There are two primary ways you can lose your job. Your employer can fire you or lay you off. Each method results in a loss of employment, but they are different from one another. Knowing your rights as an employee and how to prepare for a possible job loss can help protect you from some of the devastating consequences of losing your job.

Getting laid off in BC

You could lose your job temporarily or permanently due to a layoff.  Layoffs can leave the door open to the possibility your employer will bring you back to work. The potential of returning to work depends on the circumstances, but it’s not unheard of.

Temporary layoff

Businesses can lay off staff when work is slow. Some industries are seasonal, like logging or farming. These types of firms regularly lay off employees for short periods. Manufacturers may also shut down production temporarily, so they lay off their staff during the shutdown. Employers expect workers to return to their jobs after the layoff period ends. 

A temporary layoff typically means you earn 50% or less of your wages or are not working at all during the period.  A temporary layoff can be up to 13 weeks in a 20-week period. You are still considered employed because the expectation is you’ll return to your job. Your benefits, vacation time, and anything else you are entitled to from your employer continue to accrue while on layoff.

Permanent layoff

An employer can permanently lay off an employee or employees. If your layoff is permanent, you will not be returning to your job. You are no longer considered employed. Employers typically must provide written notice and termination pay when they end your employment with a permanent layoff.

Permanent layoffs are sometimes the result of a temporary layoff exceeding the maximum 13-week period. In many cases, they happen because of changes in the business or the economy. Permanent layoffs often affect many employees at the same firm at once. Recently, there have been significant layoffs in the technology sector involving many employees of different companies.

Getting fired

Your employer can end your employment by firing you. They must follow specific procedures set out by the government. Generally, they must give you written notice and severance pay. In addition, if you are fired, it’s unlikely your employer will hire you again.

The written notice can state that your job will end on a specific date. The time you work until your job ends can be part of your compensation package. Your employer may need to give you additional severance pay.

If you are fired for just cause, you may not be entitled to severance pay or written notice. You may also have to leave your employer immediately, depending on circumstances.

Worker’s rights

While employers have legal rights, so do employees. Knowing your rights can help ensure you get the right amount of severance pay if you lose your job. Laws protecting employees are designed to prevent employers from taking advantage of their workers by firing them illegally or not paying severance pay.

You are typically entitled to severance or termination pay if you are fired or permanently laid off. The amount you receive is based on the time you have worked for the employer. There are exceptions, such as if you are fired for just cause.

The employees must agree to a temporary layoff, or the layoff must be accepted as a normal part of the industry or be part of your contract. If you refuse to accept a temporary layoff, the employer can end your employment. In a case like this, the employer must follow the province’s rules for terminating the employment relationship.

Not all employers follow the law when it comes to firing or laying off employees. You can contact the labour board or consult an attorney if you feel you aren’t being treated fairly. 

How to Prepare for a Job Loss

Getting laid off in BC can ruin your finances if you’re unprepared. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help you make it through this difficult time.

First, making a monthly budget will show you where your money goes. Include all your necessary expenses and debt repayment.  Building an emergency fund with enough cash to cover three to six months of expenses will help you manage a job loss. 

Your debt payments might take up a large part of your budget. If you think the amount you owe is too high to manage if you lose your job, consider a debt management plan or debt consolidation. Contacting a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT) will give you options for debt relief.

If you’re laid off or think you might be, exploring government support programs will let you know what you are entitled to if you lose your job. Read up on Employment Insurance (EI) to find out which benefits might apply to you. EI offers several benefit programs such as unemployment, sickness benefits, maternity benefits, as well as others. Researching the options will let you know what you could qualify for if you lose your job.

Finding another job if you’re laid off may take time. Having an up-to-date resume, networking, and upgrading your skills can help make landing a new job easier.

Where to Find Help

Getting laid off in BC can make a mess of your finances, especially if you carry a lot of debt. Living on a reduced income while managing your payments, living expenses and searching for a new job can be overwhelming.

If you need help with your debt, our LITs at Allan Marshall and Associates are fully trained and equipped to help you deal with your situation. We offer government-approved solutions to reduce or eliminate your debt. Please call us today for a free consultation at 1-888-371-8900.

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Scott Marshall BBA, C.I.R.P, L.I.T

Scott is serving as Vice President and managing partner of Allan Marshall & Associates Inc. since obtaining his License as a Trustee (LIT) in 2003. Scott graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from the University of New Brunswick and is an active member of the New Brunswick business community. In past years, Scott has been a valued member of the Wallace McCain institute.