Can I be fired while on long-term disability in Ontario?
Special to CP24.com
Published Thursday, December 21, 2023 3:42PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 2, 2024 1:52PM EST
Another wave of layoffs has been occurring across various industries, adding a new level of stress for workers throughout Ontario. This situation creates an even greater level of uncertainty for those on long-term disability (LTD).
To help navigate the legal complexities of losing your job while receiving LTD benefits, we sought expert advice. We spoke to Lior Samfiru, an employment lawyer, and Sivan Tumarkin, a disability lawyer, both national co-managing partners at Toronto-based Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, renowned as Canada’s largest firm focusing specifically on employment and disability law for employees.
Can I be fired while on LTD?
It’s a common misconception that employers can only fire employees for misconduct or poor performance, but companies have the legal right to terminate employment for various reasons, even if you’re on LTD. However, being on LTD provides you with certain protections, and your employer can’t legally terminate your employment because you’re on LTD.
An employer can’t legally dismiss you solely because you’re unable to work due to injury, illness, or medical issues. Such an action would be a violation of your employment rights, disability rights, and critically, your human rights under Ontario’s laws.
When an employee – whether full-time, part-time or contract worker – is fired due to an injury or medical condition, they are entitled not only to a full severance package from their employer but may also be eligible for additional compensation under human rights legislation.
If you’ve lost your job, use Samfiru Tumarkin LLP’s severance pay calculator to see the value of your potential severance package.
What happens to my LTD benefits if I lose my job?
In the event that you’re laid off or fired while on LTD in Ontario, you should continue receiving the LTD benefits as outlined in your policy, provided that your doctor continues to support your disability claim and confirms that you can’t work.
According to Sivan Tumarkin, “The insurance company’s decision to provide you with LTD benefits is separate from your employer’s decision to let you go. One should not directly influence the other.”
Tumarkin emphasizes the importance of understanding your policy in the case of job loss, advising “If you lose your job, you should immediately get a copy of your LTD policy and have it reviewed by a disability lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP. Your policy likely contains specific details about how severance pay impacts your LTD benefits. It is crucial to get clarity on your situation and make sure that your rights are protected.”
Can my employer fire me because my LTD claim was denied or cut off?
No, they can’t. Being denied or cut off from LTD benefits doesn’t give your employer the right to let you go. As long as you provide a note from your doctor verifying you can’t work due to an injury or medical issue, your employer can’t use that as a reason to force you back to work or fire you.
Employment lawyer Lior Samfiru explains, “Your employer ultimately has to do what your doctor says. If your doctor says you can’t work, your employer is legally obligated to respect this decision. And if your doctor approves your return to work, but with certain accommodations, your employer must provide them appropriately so you can work effectively.”
However, it’s important to remember that being on LTD doesn’t entirely prevent your employer from firing you; they just can’t fire you because of your injury or condition. If you are terminated, you need to carefully consider your next steps. This should begin with consulting an employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP to understand your options, so that you don’t end up accepting a bad severance offer.
Understanding the rationale behind the denial or termination of your LTD claim is essential. Tumarkin borrows from his years of experience pushing back against insurers on behalf of his clients during these challenging situations. “Insurance companies are generally in the business of making profits by getting you off their payroll and back to work. While they may suggest you appeal their decision, our experience has shown it is usually a waste of your time, often just running down the clock on your deadline to file a legal claim,” he explains.
Tumarkin advises seeking professional guidance: “It’s important to speak with a disability lawyer. Our team offers free LTD consultations to ensure that your rights are recognized and respected. We communicate directly with the insurance company on your behalf so you can reduce your stress and focus on getting better, while we get the compensation you are rightfully owed.”
Will I get severance when I lose my job?
In short, yes! If you’re fired without cause, and in many cases where you’re fired with cause, the company must compensate you with a severance package.
If you do receive a severance offer when you lose your job, don’t sign anything right away. Your former employer may try to get you to sign quickly by giving a deadline, but your legal rights don’t expire based on the company’s timeline. You have up to two years to file a claim for severance, and depending on a number of factors, you might receive up to 24 months’ pay.
To learn about your rights when losing your job, check out the Pocket Employment Lawyer, a toolkit created by Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.
Losing your job can understandably leave you feeling overwhelmed and stressed about what lies ahead, especially if you’re also facing LTD denial. Speaking with the employment and disability law team at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP can help ease those concerns. Their dual expertise in both areas of law uniquely positions them to review your termination, effectively challenge any LTD denial, and negotiate with your employer to secure a fair severance package.”
Contact employment lawyer Lior Samfiru, national co-managing partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, to get the advice and compensation you need by calling 1-888-861-4555, emailing Ask@EmploymentLawyer.ca or filling out an online contact form.
His law firm represents non-unionized employees in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. Discover your employment rights by watching Lior on Ask a Lawyer every Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. on CP24.