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THE QUESTION

What should I expect as severance from being laid off after only eight months as a sales representative? I'd been with the previous company more than five years, and was lured away by a company that has now laid off ten per cent of the staff in various positions, and offered me four weeks' severance pay. Based on my age, 61, I am not confident of finding an equivalent paying position and in a reasonable amount of time. Therefore, I have requested at least another two months' severance.

THE FIRST ANSWER

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Eileen Dooley

Vice-president, VF Career Management, in the Calgary office a Canada-wide career-transition firm.

Given that they recruited you from another role, and terminated your position, you do have a story to tell a lawyer who will likely advise you that the severance is not sufficient. Question remains – what do you do in the meantime? Regardless of the severance outcome, you will need to find another job.

One option is to go back to your previous employer and explain the situation. Assuming you left on a high note, there may be a way to go back to your former job, or contribute to that company in a different way.

The other, and most likely, option is to begin a formal, strategic job search. Part of your severance should include working with a transition firm or coach to help you through this process. Get in touch with your network and continue to build relationships. Explain that a great role at this new company was surprisingly eliminated after eight months, and you are looking for your next opportunity.

Either choice points to the inevitable -- to accept this unfortunate outcome and find a new job.

THE SECOND ANSWER

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George Cottrelle

Partner, Keel Cottrelle LLP, Toronto

The fact that you were lured away, or induced by the new company, from a stable job which you held for over five years , is a factor which could increase the reasonable notice period that you are entitled to under common law principles, assuming layoff means there was a termination of your employment.

The legal significance of the inducement by your new employer depends on a number of circumstances, including the manner of recruitment by the new company, whether you were given assurances of job security or advancement, the length of time that you worked for your prior employer, and whether you were actively looking for other employment. Generally, inducement considerations are more relevant in shorter term employment situations like your own, than in cases of longer term employment.

Inducement is one factor in the determination of your legal entitlement arising from the termination of your employment . Other factors which would be significant to determining the period of reasonable notice include your age (61), length of your new employment, and the fact that you anticipate it will take some time to find an equivalent paying position.

The four weeks' severance you have been offered exceeds the various provincial statutory minimum requirements, unless the 10 per cent work force reduction triggered the mass termination provisions under the provincial employment law statute applicable to you, which in certain Provinces, requires more than four weeks' severance. In view of the above factors, your request for at least another two months' of severance is reasonable.

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