Q: I was recently terminated from employment, during the probationary term of my new job. Am I entitled to a severance payment?
Employment lawyer, Norman Grosman: Unless your employer has alleged, and can prove, it had just cause for your termination, based upon your misconduct or misbehaviour during the course of your presumably short term employment, the answer is yes, you are entitled to appropriate severance.
The first thing you will want to reference are the terms of your offer of employment, particularly the extent to which they address what you will be entitled to in the event that your employment is terminated during your probationary period. Your company may not, for example, provide you with less than the Employment Standards Act or labour standards minimum in your province, for the period of time you have worked, regardless of the terms of your offer letter. If the terms are, however, silent as to what you will be paid in the event that your employment is terminated without cause during the probationary period, you may indeed be entitled to something greater than the minimum amounts set out in employment or labour standards legislation.
An employer is free to choose the length of the probation period, but it must treat you fairly and appropriately if it decides to part company with you during that period, even though it is probationary in nature. That said, generally the short term nature associated with probationary employer does yield relatively modest awards, even when such compensation in lieu of notice extends beyond the employment or labour standards minimums.
Norman Grosman tackles your employment law dilemmas regularly on Workopolis. More information about him and his legal services can be found on his website grosman.com.