Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw many workers jump on the opportunity to move out of the city and into the suburbs… or further. What happens if an employee decides to move provinces, or leave the country altogether? While it may be difficult for some to resist the appeal of moving out of a busy city, being closer to family, or relocating for lower property prices, employees should be mindful of the impacts this could have on their employment.
Getting the employer’s consent to relocating abroad should be the first step for an employee considering a big move. If an employee decides on the decision of relocating abroad without consent, things can get more complicated. Although relocating without consent has not yet been considered by the courts in the context of COVID-19, previous case law indicates that a significant relocation, without employer consent, may give rise to cause for dismissal if the issue can not be resolved.
In a 2012 BC case, Ernst v. Destiny Software Productions Inc., the court considered whether an employee’s covert move from Vancouver to Cabo, Mexico was cause for dismissal. In siding with the employer that there was cause, the court considered that his unilateral decision to move countries, coupled with his dishonesty about that and the use of his vacation time, had broken the trust required for continued employment.
This case is context specific and will of course vary from the experiences of others. Employees considering relocating abroad should consider factors like the terms of their employment contract, the distance of the relocation, whether there is dishonesty around the decision to relocate, and their willingness to work with the employer to find a solution. Employees working remotely as a result of the pandemic should also consider whether the employer will be calling everyone back to the workplace, as an unreasonable refusal to return to the office may be considered a breach of the contract of employment.
Before making the decision to relocating abroad while working remotely, employees should speak with their employers to avoid any potential conflicts that may place their job in jeopardy. To better understand your workplace rights and explore the viability of a claim, we encourage employees and employers to seek legal advice. Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you are looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.
Author: Rachel Patten