Are you unknowingly condoning changes to your employment contract?

If your employer makes changes to your employment contract that you don't agree with, should you speak up? Remaining silent and continuing to work may forfeit your chances to sue for constructive dismissal. You only have a limited time to voice your objections or take action. Failing to do so in time implies that you agree with, or condone the changes. Your options go out the window and, like it or not, you are tied into a new employment contract.

How long do you have before this occurs? Every case has its individual set of circumstances, but in situations such as medical leave, the clock stops on condonation and the new employment contract is put on hold.

That’s what happened to a 58-year-old employee who worked for a labour market training organization for almost 7 years. He was consistently promoted and received increases in both salary and profit share. The trouble began when the company was informed that they would lose their government funding for the following year unless they significantly improved their performance.

An employer makes changes to pay in the employment contract

As a result, the company implemented a new chargeback program as a disciplinary measure for their staff. The employee was informed that he would lose his profit shares if he failed to follow procedure or misused resources. This program increased the pressure in his workplace exponentially and added to some unfortunate circumstances in his personal life. He started seeing a psychologist. One month after the new chargeback program was initiated, he was medically prescribed stress leave. He never returned to work and eventually resigned his position.

Along with his severance pay, he received a letter stating that his profit share for the year would not be paid due to his poor performance. This came as a huge surprise, as his final performance evaluation claimed the opposite. In fact, if he had continued working, he would've received a raise. He had only worked for a month under the new chargeback program and didn't expect that it would be applied retroactively. This represented a loss of over $14,000.

Employment contracts and condonation: the clock stops ticking

The company believed the employee had condoned the changes in the employment contract as he had worked for one month at reduced pay and then went on stress leave. The courts disagreed, as the employee's inability to work effectively stopped the condonation clock. It was unlikely that the employee would condone any cuts to his profit share, especially if he knew these terms would be applied retroactively to work he had previously completed. Further evidence was presented regarding the employee’s personal problems, stressful work environment and declining health.

The employer was found in breach of the employment contract as it had made changes without the employee's consent. The employer failed to provide consideration to compensate for these changes, didn't provide sufficient notice and therefore was liable for damages.

If your employment contract has been changed without consent or consideration, please contact Yeager Employment Law Vancouver.


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