Employer followed rules when it terminated job

I was laid off from a company a few months ago and received two week of severance pay after working for them for two years.

Dear Working Wise: I was laid off from a company a few months ago and received two week of severance pay after working for them for two years.

Does the company have to call me first to see if I want my job back before hiring anyone else? If so, and they have hired someone else, what are my options about getting my old job back? — Eager to Work

Dear Eager: I wish I could help you get your old job back, but it sounds like your employer has acted appropriately.

There is such a thing as a “temporary layoff,” when an employer wants to maintain the employment relationship with you and call you back as soon as there is work available. But it sounds to me from your letter that your employer terminated your employment. You received severance pay, because your employer severed (terminated) your employment relationship.

Employers are not required to rehire former employees first.

Your employer also paid you an appropriate amount of termination pay. Anyone employed for between two and four years is entitled to a minimum of two weeks notice or two weeks of severance pay in lieu.

If your employer wanted to maintain the employment relationship — and lay you off temporarily — they would have been required to notify you in writing. Temporary layoff notices must include the effective date of the layoff and sections 62 to 64 of Alberta’s Employment Standards code, which govern temporary layoffs.

Temporary layoffs can not last more than 59 days in duration. On the 60th consecutive day of a temporary layoff, the employment relationship terminates and the employer must pay the employee termination pay on that day, unless wages or benefits continue to be paid on behalf of the employee or there is a collective agreement that provides recall rights longer than the 59 days.

Should the layoff extend past the 59 days, the employment terminates and termination pay appropriate to the length of service of the employee is required. The only exception to the 59-day period applies to school employees and school-bus drivers.

Employees can be terminated while on temporary layoff, but they are entitled to termination pay.

Employees on temporary layoff can be called back to work with seven days written notice. Employees who fail to return to work within seven days of receiving written notice can be terminated without termination notice or pay.

The good news is that Alberta’s unemployment rate has come down over the past year and the number of job postings are on the rise. You are in a better position than many job seekers, because you have two years of experience working in a job you enjoy.

Drop by your nearest Labour Market Information Centre for help putting your valuable experience to work. Centre staff can provide you with free career services, including: career planning, resume development, preparing for job interviews and links to employers who are hiring.

The centre also offers free access to computers for job searches, fax machines, photocopiers, and telephones. Visit www.employment.alberta.ca/awoffices.

If you have any more questions, call 1-877-427-3731.

You can also review the Employment Standards Code at www.employment.alberta.ca/es.

Working Wise is compiled by Charles Strachey of Alberta Employment and Immigration (charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca).

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