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
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:
 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.
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.
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
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.