Tech workers should consider new job offers with care

Sunira Chaudhri

Sunira Chaudhri

Toronto Employment Lawyer

The termination trend seemed to have gained momentum after the culling of employees at Twitter, including Amazon terminating 18,000 employees and another 12,000 terminated from Google.

It is no secret that thousands of Canadian tech sector employees have been impacted by rounds of layoffs in recent months.

 

It feels like it all started in November 2022 when Twitter terminated almost two thirds of its 7,500 workforce after Elon Musk bought the troubled tech company.

 

The termination trend seemed to have gained momentum after the culling of employees at Twitter, including Amazon terminating 18,000 employees and another 12,000 terminated from Google.

 

According to Fortune Magazine, instead of “struggling to find new work,” terminated tech sector employees are discovering that their skills are a “hot commodity.” In a recent article, the magazine goes on to say that many employers outside the tech industry, like Walmart, are moving quickly to attract skilled tech workers. Large retail, healthcare and financial institutions are powered by highly-skilled teams of technology workers.

 

All jobs, however, are not created equal. Many terminated employees are not aware of their obligations to search for work after a termination.

 

Employees are not required to pick up the first job that is offered to them. However, they are legally required to accept roles at a comparable level of seniority and at a comparable level of pay. So, even if a terminated tech worker gets a quick job offer at another institution, these employees are entitled to weigh their options and consider whether or not the role is sufficiently senior to the role they previously enjoyed as well as whether or not the salary, bonus and other perks and benefits are reasonably similar.

 

Generally, if a similar role offers a compensation package that falls below 15% less of what the employee used to earn, there may not be a legal obligation to accept it.

 

Another consideration is the employment agreement. Many employers have adopted lengthy employment contracts, seeking to increase certainty and limit liability. It is always recommended to carefully read through an employment offer and consider whether or not the terms offered are indeed fair.

 

Employees should pay special attention to the following sections of an employee offer prior to accepting a role:

 

Job responsibilities and place of work — Employees should pay attention to whether or not a role is in-person, hybrid or remote. Consider also the duty to be available to work outside of normal business hours and the potential for overtime. Employees should also pay attention to whether or not they may be required to perform work outside of normal business hours and whether or not they will be paid overtime for this work.

 

Termination clauses — Employees should carefully review proposed termination clause language in an employment offer. Given how hard it can be to find comparable employment depending on your industry, entitlements on terminations are perhaps the most important consideration when accepting a job offer. If you are unclear about what a termination provision means, get advice before signing.

 

Bonus and incentives — Roles that offer incentives and benefits may have these perks reflected in an employment offer. Sometimes employers add restrictive language to bonus and short term incentive clauses depending on whether or not an employee is “actively employed” at the time of payment. Language like this can limit entitlements on termination. Understanding what these clauses mean and whether or not you can negotiate this language can be significant.

 

Surveillance — Ontario employers are required to inform employees if they intend to surveil employee email and their use of workplace devices. If your employer is providing you with a computer and/or work phone, check your contract to see if your employer intends to monitor your work, whereabouts and productivity.

 

Many employees believe that they are not entitled to negotiate employment agreements. In fact, asking questions and negotiating your employment agreement prior to accepting a role can be the best time to secure advantages for your employment relationship that will set you up for success.

 

Have a workplace issue? Maybe I can help! Email me at sunira@worklylaw.com and your question may be featured in a future column.

 

The content of this article is general information only and is not legal advice.

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