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THE QUESTION

In a merger of companies, do you always have the option of taking a severance if you don't want the new job offered to you (assuming you get one)?

THE FIRST ANSWER

Daniel Lublin

Partner at Whitten & Lublin employment lawyers, Toronto

If you are offered a similar position with the acquiring company, generally there is no obligation to present you with a severance payment.

The main exception would be if the position you are offered is not comparable to the position you previously held.

Although the new job does not need to be exactly the same, if it is reasonably similar in all important respects – such as compensation, location, seniority and status – a court would not award you any severance if you decided to turn down the offer.

If you do accept employment with the acquiring company, sale-of-business legislation in Canada deems your service as continuous, so your tenure would not be lost.

Just be careful not to sign anything that would limit your ability to claim severance against either company.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Colleen Clarke

Corporate trainer and author of How to Get a Job and Keep It, Toronto

When a company is acquired or merges with another, employees from both sides of the transaction are affected. These changes are often a time for career reflection, usually with a bit of imagination required.

Ask yourself some heartfelt questions:

  • If I don’t stay with the new company, what is my heart’s desire?
  • Should I start putting some money away for that, or for an employment lull?
  • Have I been keeping my skills up to date, acquiring new ones, and staying on top of my game with current trends and what the competition is doing?

Take some time to think about how happy you are in the work you do now, compared to when you started.

The biggest mistake people make with their careers is that they don't plan, or dream, or carry out what they really want; they just allow life to happen to them.

Place yourself in a positive mindset first. Start putting pen to paper and transforming dreams into goals. Notice if your heart starts to beat a little faster.

Maybe it's the right time to start being your own boss, start a new career, go back to school, join forces with a colleague in a partnership, travel the world, or move up the corporate ladder with a new position. Or maybe it's time to slow down and work part-time.

The options can be endless with some soul-searching, number-crunching, and a little imagination.

Got a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that mine field? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com

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