An employment contract establishes the terms of the employment agreement – work hours, duties, pay, overtime, vacation time and more – between employee and employer. Often that contract is a tangible written document signed by both parties. However, whether the terms have been put in writing or not, certain terms are common to all employment relationships under Alberta labour law.
More importantly, the employment agreement (as well as those terms legislated by the Alberta’s Employment Standards Act) is a legal contract that binds each party. If the terms of the contract are broken by either side, this is a breach of contract.
Employment contracts and employee rights
In addition to the employment agreement, certain rights and protections are afforded employees under Alberta’s employment legislation, the Employment Standards Act and the Alberta Human Rights Act. These rights and protections can and often do outweigh the conditions of an employment agreement, although there are exceptions depending on the industry and type of work in question.
Implications of a breach of contract
When an employer neglects certain obligations of the employment agreement this is sometimes termed frustration of contract. If, either through neglect or intent, an employer breaches the employment contract through its actions – for example, a demotion, stripping duties, cutting wages, refusing benefits or raises or denying employee rights – this may be treated as a constructive dismissal under labour law.
As such, an employee whose employer has breached the employment contract may have a case for terminating the relationship and seeking severance pay or other damages associated with the breach of contract.
However, these are not actions to be undertaken frivolously. Before resigning and seeking damages for breach of contract, it is wise to ensure that you are prepared with strong legal guidance.
Has your employment contract been breached? Call us today!
If you live in the greater Edmonton area and you suspect the terms of your employment agreement have been violated, contact the Lypkie Henderson Employment Law office to arrange a consultation.