Canada: Pas de double indemnisation : les employés qui reçoivent des prestations d'invalidité pendant la période de préavis ne peuvent recevoir une indemnité pour perte salariale

La Cour du banc de la Reine de l'Alberta affirme que les employés qui reçoivent des prestations d'invalidité pendant un délai de préavis raisonnable ne peuvent recevoir également une indemnité pour perte de salaire : Bélanger v. Western Ventilation Products Ltd., 2019 ABQB 571.

La Cour du banc de la Reine de l'Alberta a récemment statué que les employés qui reçoivent des prestations d'invalidité pendant la période de préavis raisonnable ne peuvent pas recevoir en même temps l'indemnité pour perte de salaire. Le jugement est fondé sur le principe que les employés ont droit à des dommages-intérêts en fonction des sommes auxquelles ils auraient eu droit pendant la période de préavis. Étant donné que les employés qui reçoivent des prestations d'invalidité ne travaillent pas et, par conséquent, ne touchent pas de salaire, ils ne peuvent pas réclamer à la fois le paiement d'un salaire et des prestations d'invalidité dans une poursuite pour congédiement injustifié.

Les faits

M. Bélanger a été congédié sans motif valable de chez Western Ventilation Products Ltd. (« Western »). Il a eu droit à un préavis d'environ un an et à la continuation de ses prestations pendant au moins deux ans après la cessation d'emploi. Au cours de la période de préavis, M. Bélanger est tombé malade, a été incapable de travailler et a commencé à recevoir des prestations d'invalidité en vertu du régime d'invalidité de Western. M. Bélanger était âgé de 64 ans au moment de la demande d'indemnité. Le régime d'invalidité lui a accordé des prestations jusqu'à l'âge de 65 ans, date à laquelle les prestations ont cessé.

M. Bélanger a intenté une poursuite pour congédiement injustifié et a réclamé une indemnité de départ de 24 mois. Western a demandé le rejet sommaire de l'action au motif que M. Bélanger n'aurait pas été en mesure de travailler pendant la période de préavis, peu importe sa durée. Ainsi les seuls paiements qu'il aurait reçus pendant une période de préavis de 24 mois auraient été les prestations d'assurance invalidité jusqu'à l'âge de 65 ans. Puisqu'il recevait déjà des prestations d'assurance invalidité jusqu'à l'âge de 65 ans, aucune autre indemnité n'était nécessaire.

Le jugement

Le protonotaire en chambre a rejeté la demande de M. Bélanger au motif que la cessation d'emploi n'occasionnait aucun dommage. Les employés ont droit à des dommages-intérêts fondés sur les sommes auxquelles ils auraient eu droit pendant la période de préavis raisonnable. Le principe fondamental est que l'employé doit être placé dans la même situation que s'il n'avait pas été congédié sans préavis raisonnable.

Dans cette affaire, le protonotaire en chambre a conclu que, peu importe que M. Bélanger ait reçu un préavis de 12 mois ou de 24 mois, il aurait reçu des prestations d'invalidité jusqu'à l'âge de 65 ans. Par conséquent, il était déjà dans la même situation qu'il aurait été s'il avait reçu un préavis de 24 mois. Le protonotaire en chambre n'a pas accordé le paiement d'un salaire perdu qui n'aurait pas été reçu de toute manière si M. Bélanger n'avait pas été congédié. Le préavis de 12 mois et les prestations d'invalidité continues que Western avait déjà fournis ont placé M. Bélanger dans la même situation que s'il n'y avait pas eu congédiement sans préavis approprié.

Principales conclusions

L'affaire Bélanger illustre que si un employé devient invalide pendant la période de préavis et commence à recevoir des prestations d'invalidité, il ne peut pas demander une double indemnisation (à la fois des prestations d'invalidité et des paiements pour compenser la perte de salaire). Pour ne pas toucher la double indemnisation, il faut toutefois que l'employé reçoive effectivement des prestations d'invalidité. Par conséquent, les employeurs doivent faire preuve de prudence avant de mettre fin aux prestations d'invalidité au moment de la cessation d'emploi ou pendant la période de préavis raisonnable, plus particulièrement pour les employés plus âgés ou ceux qui ont déjà eu des problèmes de santé. Si les prestations d'invalidité sont interrompues et que l'employé devient invalide pendant la période de préavis raisonnable, l'employeur peut être tenu de prendre la place de l'assureur invalidité. Cela signifie que l'employeur peut être tenu de verser des prestations d'invalidité jusqu'à ce que l'employé atteigne l'âge de 65 ans (ou tout autre âge auquel les prestations d'invalidité prennent fin conformément aux modalités du régime d'invalidité en place), ce qui pourrait s'avérer une surprise inattendue et coûteuse pour les employeurs. Il peut être possible d'atténuer ce risque par le maintien des prestations pendant la période de préavis raisonnable ou par le versement d'une somme forfaitaire tenant lieu de préavis raisonnable et l'obtention d'une quittance qui élimine les demandes de prestations perdues.

Chaque cessation d'emploi est unique et dépend de sa situation particulière. Avant de décider de congédier un employé, les employeurs sont encouragés à consulter un conseiller juridique expérimenté pour les aider à réduire leur exposition aux litiges et aux réclamations relatives aux droits de la personne.

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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