Suncor Energy recently announced plans to cut 15% of its workforce. That’s nearly 2,000 people. If you’re a Suncor Energy employee, you’re probably nervous about how this will affect you. To prepare yourself for the Suncor Energy layoffs, read this. And DON’T SIGN ANY DOCUMENTS YET!
Alberta has taken a hard economic hit because of COVID-19. Many businesses have been impacted, and Suncor Energy is no exception despite its status as one of Canada’s largest oil and gas producers.
The Government has made changes to legislation to reflect workplace realities caused by the ongoing pandemic. A key change is the extension of the temporary layoff period defined in the Employment Standards Code.
Under the Code, if Suncor Energy must temporarily lay off employees because of COVID-19, employees must be given 7 days’ notice of the temporary layoff. That temporary layoff period can last up to 180 consecutive days. On day 181, it becomes an employment termination.
In this scenario, the employer is not required to provide termination pay until the employment termination comes into effect on day 181.
If the layoff is not a direct result of COVID-19, the temporary layoff period can be up to 90 days within a 120-day period.
Is it actually a layoff, or is it a termination?
By definition, a layoff is a temporary situation not intended to permanently sever the employment relationship. If Suncor Energy does not intend to recall these laid-off employees, this is actually a group termination.
By law, when 50 or more employees are being terminated from the same location, the employer is only required to provide notice “as soon as is reasonable in the circumstances”.
The employer is also required to notify the Minister of Group Terminations. The Government of Alberta will then provide group termination support including suggestions for alternative action for the employer as well as support and services for terminated employees.
I Got Laid Off by Suncor Energy. Was it a Wrongful Dismissal?
A wrongful dismissal is when an employer terminates an employee without protecting the legal rights of that employee. A few common wrongful dismissal scenarios include:
- Termination without just cause (reason for termination allowed by the law)
- Termination without reasonable notice or without the full amount of severance, notice period pay, vacation pay, or final pay
- Employment contract changes without the employee’s agreement
For more information about reasonable notice and termination pay, including how to determine what you qualify for, see Employment Termination & Wrongful Dismissal and What Am I Entitled to During the Termination Notice Period?.
Even if you have been wrongfully terminated, you have a legal obligation to mitigate (or lessen) the damages you might incur by taking reasonable action to find a new job while pursuing a claim against your former employer.
If your situation is determined to be a wrongful dismissal, you may be entitled to 3 types of “damages”:
- Notice Period Payment – the money you would make during the reasonable termination notice period
- Extra Compensation – money to compensate for mental distress caused by the wrongful dismissal
- Punitive Damages – compensation in cases of particularly malicious wrongful dismissals
I Got Laid Off by Suncor Energy. Was it a Constructive Dismissal?
Constructive dismissal is when an employer significantly changes the terms of the employment contract without advance notice or without the employee’s consent. Examples of these changes include a reduction of salary or redefining primary job duties.
If you’re a Suncor Energy employee who has been terminated, your situation is most likely not a constructive dismissal. However, you may still have a wrongful dismissal case due to other factors.
Legal Advice for Suncor Energy Employee Layoffs
If you’ve been affected by the Suncor Energy layoffs, it is strongly advised that you speak with an employment lawyer. This situation is complex and you have rights and entitlements you should understand before signing anything.
DO NOT SIGN ANY DOCUMENTS from your employer before obtaining legal advice. Suncor Energy is required to give you reasonable opportunity to seek independent legal counsel before signing a release or severance offer. We can obtain an extension on your behalf, if necessary.
The award-winning employment lawyers of Osuji & Smith: Calgary Employment, Business & Family Lawyers are prepared to support any employee affected by the Suncor Energy layoffs. Let us review your contract, release or severance forms before you sign them. We will review your situation and provide options for moving forward, including filing your claim (if necessary).