• Alex Robertson

COVID-19 and Reasonable Notice of Termination –UPDATE

In October 2020 I wrote about what affect COVID-19 may have on the determination of

reasonable notice of termination entitlements at common law. A recent decision of the

Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Iriotakis v. Peninsula Employment Services

Limited 2021 ONSC 998, suggests that terminating an employee without cause during

the COVID-19 pandemic may result in the Courts awarding a slight increase in notice of

termination periods.


IRIOTAKIS v. PENINSULA EMPLOYMENT SERVICES LIMITED

In the case of Iriotakis, the former employee plaintiff, Mr. Iriotakis, was dismissed

without cause after the pandemic began and argued that that fact should support a

longer notice of termination period. In considering the effect of the current global

pandemic on reasonable notice of termination entitlements at common law, the Ontario

Superior Court stated the following:

[19] I was asked to make findings about the job market and the possible impact

of Covid-19 on Mr. Iriotakis. I have little doubt that the pandemic has had some

influence upon Mr. Iriotakis’ job search and would have been reasonably

expected to do so at the time his employment was terminated in late March 2020.

However, it must also be borne in mind that the impact of the pandemic on the

economy in general and on the job market, in particular, was highly speculative

and uncertain both as to degree and to duration at the time Mr. Iriotakis’

employment was terminated. The principle of reasonable notice is not a

guaranteed bridge to alternative employment in all cases however long it may

take even if an assessment of the time reasonably anticipated to be necessary to

secure alternative employment is a significant factor in its determination. I must

be alert to the dangers of applying hindsight to the measuring of reasonable

notice at the time when the decision was made to part ways with the plaintiff.


THE TAKEAWAY

Further judicial consideration of this issue is required but the Iriotakis decision suggests

that terminations without cause during the COVID-19 pandemic may result in a slight

increase in notice periods if such termination or notice of termination is challenged by

the former employee in court.


Contact Us

Given the current heightened uncertainty, we strongly recommend that employers seek

legal advice when facing decisions involving employee terminations. If you have any

questions or concerns or are interested in discussing common law notice entitlements in relation to specific employees, please contact us at (604) 736 9791 or email Alex

Robertson ar@dwslaw.ca

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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to serve as, or should be construed as legal advice, and is only to provide general information. No portion or use of this article will establish a lawyer-client relationship with the author or any related party. Should you require legal advice for your particular situation, please get in touch with us.