As the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for”. Two former employees of now-defunct Trillium Manufacturing are suing the Ministry of Labour over advice they received from its ESA hotline.
The two employees accepted 8 weeks’ pay-in-lieu of notice from their employer as the ESA hotline told them that was their maximum legal entitlement, even though they were both over 50 years old and had 13 and 22 years of service respectively (ouch). Trillium has since gone out of business.
Any regular reader of WorkplaceWire knows that unless employees have valid employment agreements which speak to termination entitlements, the common law will infer a much more generous payout (see here, here, and here).
However, by its namesake the ESA hotline cannot and does not address common law entitlements, which only a court can award.
As a result, these two employees have joined many an employer in mistakingly thinking that by following the advice from the Ministry of Labour’s ESA hotline they were complying with the law when in fact they were only complying with the ESA’s statutory minimums.
Morale of the story? When it comes to “free” legal advice, caveat emptor.