If you are not a current client of Giffen LLP, please do not include any information in this email that you or someone else considers confidential. You do not become a client of Giffen LLP until Giffen LLP agrees to act for you and confirms representation in writing. Until that time, what you send us cannot be protected by solicitor-client privilege.



Giffen LLP - Response to COVID-19


In light of the continued spread of COVID-19 and more recently, the ‘global pandemic’ declaration by the World Health Organization, we at Giffen LLP have been taking various precautionary measures and adjusting our operations to ensure the health and safety of our employees, clients, families and the greater community. We will continue to do so as the situation changes. We are making every effort to ensure this situation does not impact the quality of service and support that our lawyers and staff are providing to our clients.


At this time our offices remain open but we are prepared in the event that all or some of our members need to work remotely. We have technology in place that enables us to do so in an efficient and effective manner, allowing us to provide uninterrupted service to our clients as necessary.


To protect our internal community, we have enhanced our office sanitation efforts and put policies in place for business and personal travel, events and meetings. We also continue to provide our employees with the most up-to-date health and safety procedures as outlined by Health Canada, Ontario Health Agency and Region of Waterloo Public Health.


Please do not hesitate to contact your relationship partner, or me, if you have any questions, or if we can be of assistance in guiding you through these new challenges.


We greatly value our relationships with you. We are confident that we will get through this together and wish everyone the best during this difficult time.


Yours truly,


Philip A. Garbutt, Managing Partner

Giffen LLP

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Welcome, Tyler Nivins!

Tyler Nivins


Giffen Lawyers welcomes Tyler Nivins as an associate lawyer.  Born and raised in Kitchener, Ontario, Tyler earned his BA (Honours) from the University of Western Ontario in 2011 prior to receiving his law degree from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom in 2019.  Great to have you with us, Tyler!


To learn more about Tyler's practice, please go here

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What are an employee's entitlements upon termination?


By: Greg A. Carr


With a few specific exceptions, an employer has an absolute right to terminate an employee at any time.  There do not need to be performance issues, disciplinary issues, or any other justification for the termination.  Notwithstanding, the law protects employees by requiring an employer to provide the employee with reasonable notice of their termination, or alternatively, paying them an amount of money in lieu of receiving reasonable notice.


So what is reasonable notice?  Reasonable notice is governed by two different regimes – (1) the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) and (2) the common law (judge-made law). 



The Employment Standards Act


Pursuant to the ESA, an employee who has been employed for at least 3 months, is entitled to reasonable notice of:

  • one (1) week, if they have been employed for less than a year;
  • two (2) weeks, if they have been employed for more than 1 year, but less than 3 years;
  • one (1) week per year of service if they have been employed for more than 3 years, to a maximum of eight (8) weeks’ notice.

In addition, an employee may be entitled to “severance pay”, if they have been employed for more than 5 years, and their employer has a payroll exceeding $2.5 million.  In such circumstances, in addition to the notice requirements above, the employee is entitled to one additional week’s pay per year of service (to a maximum of 26 weeks).  For example, an employee who is terminated by an employer with a payroll exceeding $2.5 million, who has been employed for 10 years, would be entitled to reasonable notice (or pay in lieu) of 8 weeks, and an additional 10 weeks’ severance pay.



The common law


Where the ESA does not apply, an employee is entitled to reasonable notice at common law.  In determining reasonable notice at common law, courts will consider a number of factors, including the employee’s age, education, role they held, and likelihood of re-employability in that or a similar position.  Based on the factors to be considered, the notice period may vary greatly depending on the case, and the ultimate notice period is informed by what judges have found to be a reasonable notice period in similar cases in the past.  While a number of factors are involved, the guiding principle at common law is a notice period of 1 month per year of service.



How do I know if it’s the ESA or common law that applies?


Whether it is the ESA or the common law that establishes the reasonable notice period will be determined by the termination provisions of an employment contract.  The common law will apply unless the employee has entered into a legally enforceable employment contract limiting the employee to “ESA minimums” upon termination.   


Even where an employment contract purports to limit an employee’s entitlement to ESA minimums, the clause may not be enforceable.  There is likely no issue in employment law more often litigated than the enforceability and applicability of a termination clause.  Courts have established strict requirements which must be contained in a termination clause, such as providing for reasonable notice and the continuation of benefits.  Where the clause does not comply with the requirements established by the courts, or runs afoul of the ESA, the clause will be unenforceable and the common law notice period will apply.



What is the employee entitled to during the notice period?


While there are some exceptions, generally speaking, an employee is entitled to their entire remuneration package throughout the notice period.  This includes not only wages and health benefits, but can include pension contributions, RRSP matching, bonuses, company cell phone reimbursement, company vehicle reimbursement, and any other benefits that arise out of employment. 



Please note that this article is for information purposes only and is not intended and should not be relied on as legal advice.  If you have any questions about your rights as an employer or employee about this, or any other employment matter, please contact Greg A. Carr at Giffen LLP, and we would be happy to meet with you to discuss your matter and determine how we can best assist you moving forward. 

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Welcome, Jacqueline Fitzpatrick!


Giffen Lawyers LLP welcomes Jacqueline Fitzpatrick as an associate lawyer. Originally from Ariss, Ontario, Jacqueline earned her BA (Honours) from the University of Guelph prior to receiving her Juris Doctor from Lakehead University in 2017.  Great to have you with us, Jacqueline!

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Welcome, Emily Metcalfe!


Giffen Lawyers LLP welcomes Emily Metcalfe as an associate lawyer in our Family Law department.  Raised in Waterloo Region, Emily received here undergraduate degree from the University of Regina, before graduating from Queen's University with her Juris Doctor in 2018.   Great to have you with us, Emily!

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Welcome, Nolan Kiddie!


Giffen Lawyers LLP welcomes Nolan Kiddie as an associate lawyer. Originally from the London area, Nolan attended Brock university before receiving his Juris Doctor from Windsor University and the University of Detroit Mercy.  Great to have you with us, Nolan!

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Giffen LLP Lawyers celebrates National Golf Day!


Giffen LLP Lawyers celebrating National Golf Day.  Good luck to our client, GolfNorth, with this year's season!

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Giffen LLP Partner Cynthia Davis is President of the Waterloo Region Law Assocition


The partners, associates and staff at Giffen LLP Lawyers congratulate our colleague, partner Cynthia Davis, on becoming President of the Waterloo Region Law Association.  Cynthia has a very busy practice (and life!) and goes above and beyond with her commitment to the profession and her community - way to go, Cynthia!

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Team Giffen bowls for Kids' sake!


Team Giffen had a fun night helping to raise money (almost $3,000 - yay, team!) again this year at Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBSWR) of Waterloo Region's Bowl for Kids' Sake. BBBSWR is a community organization committed to helping children and youth live their full potential.

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Giffen Lawyers supports Rotary Club's Skate 48!


Giffen LLP Lawyers was pleased to support the Rotary Club of Kitchener Conestoga's annual "Skate 48" hockey tournament in support of local children's charities.  This year the tournament raised $140,000.00 - way to go!

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Giffen Lawyers
March 13, 2020
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Greg Carr
December 23, 2019
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