Even where there is just cause for dismissal, the employee/tenant may have a right to remain in the employer-provided accommodations for four weeks or more
By Stuart Rudner
What happens when an employee is dismissed but is living in accommodations provided by their employer?
The answer may surprise many employers, especially when they discover that, even where there is just cause for dismissal, the employee has a right to remain in the employer-provided accommodations for four weeks — or more.
This is an issue that does not arise in the vast majority of dismissals, where the only real issue is whether just cause for dismissal exists or how much notice of dismissal, or pay in lieu thereof, is required. However, the situation is more complicated in circumstances where the employee is also a tenant of the employer. Many people think of building superintendents in this context, although there is separate legislation dealing with that situation.
There are employers that provide accommodation, sometimes in the form of dormitories, for groups of workers. Some farming enterprises do so, for example.
If that is the case, then the employee tenant is entitled to notice of termination of the tenancy agreement. The amount of notice required bears no relation to the amount of notice required in order to terminate the employment relationship. It is also not impacted by the existence of just cause for dismissal.
In other words, even if an employer has just cause to terminate the relationship, such as a situation where the employee was caught stealing and the circumstances, in their entirety, warrant summary dismissal, the employer may have no choice but to allow the employee to continue living in the accommodations. Depending upon the nature of the tenancy agreement, the tenant may be entitled to 28 days of notice or more.
Of course, the usual landlord and tenant laws will apply, and in situations where a landlord is entitled to evict the tenant, they will still be able to do so in the context of a dismissed employee. However, in the absence of such circumstances, and much to the chagrin of the employer that has just fired an employee, they may well be stuck with the former employee as a tenant for weeks, if not months.
Stuart Rudner is a leading HR Lawyer and a partner in the Labour & Employment Law Group of Miller Thomson LLP, a national law firm. He provides clients with strategic advice regarding all aspects of the employment relationship, and represents them before courts, mediators and tribunals. He is author of You’re Fired: Just Cause for Dismissal in Canada, published by Carswell. He can be reached at 416.595.8672 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter @CanadianHRLaw and join his Canadian HR Law Group on LinkedIn.