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Debra, Lawyer
Category: Canada Law
Satisfied Customers: 101453
Experience:  Lawyer
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Are employers legally obligated to write reference letters?

Customer Question

I was layoff from work day before yesterday. I am from Calgary. I have been working for that employer since July 2014 (first 3 months were contract). I am professional engineer registered in Alberta. I have been offered 1 week of pay in lieu of notice pursuant to Alberta Employment Standards and additional 3 weeks of wages. Please note I joined this firm because of my interest of work (I had approached the company), but when I moved to this company I accepted less pay (~$6000/year) as compared to previous job I was doing. I am wondering if this is a fair deal for severance package. I have one 4.5 years old daughter and my wife is currently a housewife.
My questions are as follows:
1. For me most important thing is getting reference from my employer for my future jobs. This reference is far more valuable to me. So is it worth to negotiate the severance package under this conditions? Please note employer has verbally promised me to a give reference if they are contacted in future through email/phone by my prospective employer. I am having good relationships with them so far.
2. Is employer entitled to give me written REFERENCE Letter (NOT Record of Employment) under law if I ask for one such letter now?
3. I am thinking about asking 5 weeks of pay and an written employer reference letter. However, I am worried that asking such thing might jeopardize my relations with the company. For me reference for future jobs is important, but at same time I do not want to settle for very less if severance package offered to me is indeed very less.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Canada Law
Expert:  Debra replied 1 year ago.

You could not really argue that they lured you away from your previous employer could you?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No. Because I approached them and they did not come to me. I am from Province of Alberta in Canada.
Expert:  Debra replied 1 year ago.

The law is that you are entitled to receive reasonable notice or pay in lieu of notice.

Generally, in determining what is reasonable notice Courts look at several factors including the length of time you worked for the employer, your age, your position, the likelihood of finding new employment etc.

At the high end, if you were in a managerial position, the Court would likely order one month's notice or pay in lieu of notice for each year of employment. If you were not in a managerial position the Court would order somewhat less.

So keeping that in mind when you negotiate you of course want to get as much pay as possible but at the same time don't want to alienate them.

So this isn't really so much about the law at this point as prioritizing what you want and trying to get it.

Do you see what I mean?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I realized that when I asked the question. But I am wondering if under Canadian Law is employer is entitled to give the reference letter if I ask one now? Because I can ask for reference letter and 5 weeks of severance package.
Expert:  Debra replied 1 year ago.

There is no law about reference letters. So you can ask now or later and the employer can agree or refuse now or later