If your employment is terminated, you are entitled to temporarily keep your group or employee benefits, such as medical or drug insurance plans. However, there are a number of important considerations to keep in mind.

How long can I keep my benefits?

The amount of time you will generally be allowed to keep your benefits is a range that depends on how long you were employed. It can be a simple calculation: if you worked for less than one year, you will be able to keep your benefits for one week. If you worked for eight years or more, your benefits will last for eight weeks. It is your employer's responsibility to continue making payments on your behalf to ensure that you keep your benefits during this time period. This time period is called the "statutory notice period."

If you become sick or disabled during the statutory notice period (e.g., if you become ill with COVID-19), you remain entitled to your medical benefits. If your illness or disability extends beyond the period, your claim for benefits could possibly extend for as long as the medical issue persists. However, it will be very important for you to be able to prove when the medical issue started.

If your medical issue arises beyond the statutory notice period, you may still be entitled to medical benefits under the "common law notice period." However, unlike the statutory notice period, there is no simple calculator available to determine how long this period lasts. The Ontario High Court of Justice held that "there can be no catalogue laid down as to what is reasonable notice" (Bardal v. Globe & Mail Ltd., 1960 CanLII 294 (ON SC)). The Ontario Court of Appeal declared that calculating this period "is an art, not a science" (Minott v. O'Shanter Development Company Ltd., 1999 CanLII 3686 (ON CA)).

For this reason, it is very important for you to get legal advice to understand your legal rights before accepting a settlement offer. At a minimum, you may wish you consider having a complete medical examination.

"What if I was terminated because I have COVID-19? Or, what if I was terminated because of any other medical condition?"

If the decision to terminate you was influenced by a medical issue-or even a perceived medical issue-your human rights may have been violated and you are entitled to make a human rights complaint.

However, human rights complaint processes and awards are complex. It will be very important for you to get legal advice to understand your legal rights.

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.