Cutting off insurance benefits can come back to haunt you

Terminating an employee is always difficult, but when it comes to employee benefits, both employees and employers need to do their due diligence to avoid issues in the future.

Employers typically think about issues such as showing due cause or the length of severance packages, and employee benefits aren’t at the top of the list of considerations. But benefits can often come back to haunt you after employees leave, as they can sue their former employers for big bucks if the proper procedures weren’t followed. Here are a few tips on making sure you’ve covered your bases during the termination process.

Make sure you know how long an employee is covered after they leave

It’s important to factor benefits coverage into the severance package. This is where you outline the employee’s notice period – the length of time after termination that the employee will remain eligible for benefits – which is something many employees, and indeed employers, may not realize.

Employee benefits coverage needs to be extended for the same duration as a termination package – it’s a common misconception that notice periods only need to meet the statutory minimums to satisfy an employer’s obligations, which equals approximately one week of notice for every year of employment. Either you or your employee benefits broker should also notify the insurance company in advance of the termination, and have them approve the continuation of benefits.

If your benefits package includes long-term disability coverage, your insurance provider likely won’t extend those benefits for a terminated employee, so you’ll need to set up separate LTD coverage.

Take common-law notice into account: it’s not always a simple calculation

The minimum legal requirement of one week for every year of employment is often overridden by common-law notice. This supplements statutory minimums, and is determined by a number of factors including employee position, age, and length of service.

Violation of notice periods is often to blame for an employer becoming liable for damages during termination, usually as a result of cancelling an employee’s coverage too soon. Notice periods are also often calculated by taking into account court decisions in similar cases.

Protect yourself by having employees sign a waiver

Having employees sign a waiver as part of the departure process is one of the best ways to avoid any future liabilities for employers, regardless of whether an employee is terminated or has quit.

One of the main purposes of the waiver is to ensure that the employee is aware of their right to convert their employee benefits coverage to an individual policy. Many employees may not realize this, but they have a right to convert to individual life, health and dental coverage before their previous coverage is cut. If the conversion is done within 31 days of leaving the company, no medical underwriting is required.

In Card Estate v. John A. Robertson Mechanical Contractors (1985) Ltd. (1989), 26 CCEL 294, (Ont. H.C.), an employee was terminated without being told that his life insurance was being terminated or that he had 31 days to convert the life, health and dental coverage to an individual policy. The court found the employer was liable to the employee’s estate when he died during the conversion period.

Make sure you accurately describe benefits packages to employees and their dependents

Apart from a thorough waiver, there are other steps that employers can take, particularly during the hiring process, to ensure a smooth termination. One of the most important is accurately describing the employee benefits in the initial benefit package that’s given to new hires.

If discrepancies come to light between the package literature and what the insurance company has listed, employers can find themselves paying for the difference, and this amount often can be more than the cost of the original plan. Employers are required by law to provide a printed or electronic package outlining the benefits program to each employee and, when changes are made to the coverage plan, each employee should be given an updated copy.

Employers have also been held liable for not providing employees with clear instructions about the benefit packages. In a 1999 case, Deraps v Labourer’s Pension Fund of Central and Eastern Canada, Mrs. Deraps signed a waiver giving up all rights to spousal benefits after her husband’s death and she went on to sue her husband’s employer, the labourer’s pension fund, claiming that she wasn’t aware of what she was signing and that no one had explained to her what the waiver contained. The court found that the benefit plan’s administrator had a responsibility to provide “complete and clear information.” Mrs. Deraps was awarded damages equal to the amount of the pension income she would have received had she not signed the waiver.

In a similar case, Feldstein v Northern Development Corp., the British Columbia Supreme Court awarded an employee who suffered from cystic fibrosis a total of $93,336.90 in damages after they claimed that their long-term disability benefits were not accurately explained to them when they were initially hired.

The court said that the method by which the employer described “Proof of Good Health” (a requirement for LTD benefits) was “inaccurate, untrue, and misleading.”

When in doubt, seek legal advice

Do you have your General Insurance Level 1 License, but not using it?

Do you have your General Insurance Level 1 License, but not using it?

So you have got your license, now what?

Do you have your General Insurance Level 1 License, but not using it? Do you know of someone looking for an excellent long-term career in the insurance industry? We have a unique fast-track 7-week personal lines insurance training opportunity starting April 17, 2017. We are looking for candidates from Victoria and the Lower Mainland area of BC, Kelowna and Kamloops. Hosted by Intact Insurance, you will receive technical, product and sales training for a successful career as a Personal Insurance Broker.

If you are a self-starter who is willing to give 100% to this fantastic program or know of someone who may be interested in applying to be a participant, please forward your cover letter and resume, along with two references, to:

dwalmsley@dlionline.ca

Only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

Note: This program is only available for people not working in the insurance industry. If you are currently working for a general insurance broker, this opportunity is not an option for you at this time.

Testimonials from previous program participants:

“I believe it was a great start for me learning general insurance having no knowledge of the industry at all. The job shadowing with the underwriters helped me build a great relationship with them that whenever I give them a call and have questions and concerns it’s always pleasant and solutions are always given.” Ceazar Simon

“The ILS course was broken down in the best possible way. Very supportive staff that are dedicated to helping you achieve success. The live instruction is absolutely engaging and the instructors make it very easy to focus and learn what could otherwise be a dry subject. I have come out a great broker with a great career path ahead of me. I would recommend this course to absolutely anybody looking to get into the insurance sales industry. ” Joe Tobin

Why would I want to become a Personal Lines Insurance Broker?
Many people think working in the insurance industry is a boring 9 – 5 desk job that involves working alone in isolation under piles of paperwork.

This is not the case!

While many insurance industry roles do have an element of independence, an insurance career often calls for frequent client interaction, teamwork, networking and the opportunity for community involvement. These activities not only provide variety, they also provide a well-rounded set of skills and experience that can help you find a role or set of responsibilities that matches how you like to work. If you’re seeking a career that offers you the chance to succeed professionally while contributing something positive and necessary, becoming a personal lines insurance broker could be just the career opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

Edited by ILSTV.

NEW Insurance Career Opportunity

NEW Insurance Career Opportunity

Looking for a great career?  Earn while you learn!  We have a unique fast-track 7-week training opportunity starting April 17, 2017.

We are looking for candidates from Victoria and the Lower Mainland area of BC.   Hosted by Intact Insurance, you will receive technical, product and sales training for a successful career as a Personal Insurance Broker.  With a good work ethic, by the end of training candidates will have their Insurance Level II designation, and a guaranteed job!

If you are a self-starter who is willing to give 100% to this amazing program, or know of someone who may be interested in applying to be a participant, please forward your cover letter and resume, along with two references, to:

dwalmsley@dlionline.ca

Only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

Note:

This program is only available for people NEW to the insurance industry.  If you are currently working for a general insurance broker, this opportunity is not an option for you at this time

Canada: Can An Employer Rescind A Job Offer?

Article by Ridout Barron | Mondaq

Employment law in the Alberta region as well as other areas of Canada is pretty comprehensive. However, in any legal field, there are areas that may be a bit shadowy. While the law makes it clear what employers can and cannot do in terms of employment, the time leading up to employment can be one of these shadowy areas.

A lot of things happen when an employer extends a job offer. The potential employee may hand in a notice of resignation to his or her current employer. The employee may also make more extravagant purchases than normal in anticipation of earning more money. If the job offer is then rescinded, the worker may discover that he or she is suddenly in hot water.

Even though this area of employment law may not be 100 percent clear, there are a couple of circumstances in which the employer can withdraw a job offer. The first of these centers on conditional job offers. For example, an employer offers you a job but tells you that the job hinges on positive reference checks or background checks. In such a case, if the employer receives a bad reference or spots a problem during a background check, he or she can rescind the offer.

The second circumstance may arise if the potential employer discovers an applicant has not been truthful during his or her recruitment. For example, if an applicant misrepresents his or her education credentials or prior work experience, the employer can legally choose to take the job offer back.

If you are asking this question because you believe an employer has rescinded a job offer illegally, you should probably seek legal advice from an employment lawyer. This can help you determine if the job offer was rescinded in compliance with Alberta’s Employment Standards Code and Regulation.

Source: HRM Canada, “When can you rescind a job offer?,” accessed Oct. 12, 2016

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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Ontario: Countdown To 2016: AODA Requirements

Ontario: Countdown To 2016: AODA Requirements

Article by Stephanie Young

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

The next phase of Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (the “AODA”) compliance comes into effect on January 1, 2016. Private and not-for-profit organizations, and small and large public organizations will have to comply requirements under the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (the “Regulation”) beginning in the New Year as follows:

  1. Small organizations (with fewer than 50 employees in Ontario) must ensure training is provided on the requirements of the standards set out in the Regulation and the Human Rights Code as it pertains to persons with disabilities. Training must be provided to all employees, volunteers, all persons who participate in developing the organization’s policies, and all other persons who provide goods and services on behalf of the organization. Training must be appropriate to each individual’s duties, and it must be provided as soon as practicable, and on an ongoing basis as changes are made to the organization’ s accessibility policies.
  2. Small organizations must ensure processes for receiving and responding to feedback are accessible to persons with disabilities by providing or arranging for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports, upon request. Notice must be given to the public about the availability of accessible formats and communication supports.
  3. Small designated public sector organizations and large organizations (with 50 or more employees in Ontario) must provide or arrange for the provision of accessible formats and communication supports for persons with disabilities, upon request, in a timely manner that takes into account the person’s needs, and at a cost that is no more than the regular cost to other persons. Organizations must consult with the person making the request in determining the suitability of an accessible format or communication support. Notice must be given to the public about the availability of accessible formats and communication supports.
  4. Large organizations must comply with various Employment Standards set out in the Regulation. There are a number of detailed requirements in this section of the Regulation, including with respect to recruitment; providing information to employees about accommodation; providing accessible formats and communication supports in relation to information needed for an employee’s job, or information generally available in the workplace; documenting individual accommodation plans; developing return to work processes; and considering accessibility needs in performance management, career development and advancement, and redeployment processes/practices.
  5. Large designated public organizations must comply with requirements related to the design of public spaces that are newly constructed or redeveloped.

The Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure has been very active in monitoring compliance with the AODA over the last few months. We are seeing more enforcement efforts in respect of organizations that are not compliant to date, particularly in the form of spot audits, including a “retail blitz”, targeting large retailers over the last month.

In order to get ahead of any enforcement efforts and to ensure timely compliance, Ontario employers should already be thinking about these requirements and they should be taking steps to meet their obligations before the deadline rolls around.

About BLG

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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