I was just terminated from my position at a tech company in Canada. During the holiday Christmas party, I won a draw for some kind of all-inclusive vacation to be reimbursed as a taxable benefit by the company. Upon later discussion, this would amount to a few thousand dollars but wasn't specific and I'd simply be reimbursed for expenses. I never got a chance to take that vacation, and feel like there was an implied contract to deliver that independent of how much time I've worked there, as I had only been at the company for about 2 months prior to winning it and there were no conditions associated. Am I in the right to ask for it, or is there any case precedent for this?

More clearly, it was a prize that would be included as income upon my use of it, and was previously won rather than as a future benefit with strings attached.

Update: I can and did ask, and it turned out positively. Thanks for all the helpful answers.

  • Do you have any written documentation about this?
    – Daniel
    Apr 28 '20 at 13:23
  • @Kilisi Slightly different question.
    – chazbono
    Apr 28 '20 at 13:30
  • @Daniel No written documentation afaik. Maybe an email mentioning it, but otherwise just commonly known among co-workers
    – chazbono
    Apr 28 '20 at 13:30
  • I'd see if there are any free legal advice clinics in your area, and start there - there often are in the Commonwealth countries I've lived in (but I've never lived in Canada).
    – Player One
    Apr 28 '20 at 13:33
  • How did you come to participate in the draw? Was it a complete gift or did you pay for it in some way (e.g. pay for the party, or pay for raffle tickets)? Apr 28 '20 at 14:21

You can and should ask. But it's a prize you've won, so it has nothing to do with any severance pay. The terms that were agreed "we pay for your holiday and you have to pay tax on this" obviously cannot happen anymore, so you can't get exactly the price you won. Everything very much depends on the terms how you left the company. If you lost your job because COVID made work dry up, your chances are good. If you lost your job because you stole money at work, your chances are quite bad.

Ask them, and hope that they offer something of value. They might offer something of significant value if the company has money and is generally a decent company. If you are happy with the result, that's fine. They might make it part of severance pay. Usually accepting severance pay means you sign that you (roughly) can't sue the company for anything, so that would be it. If they offer nothing, you may decide to ask a lawyer. A good lawyer would tell you what your chances are to get anything.

Asking will most most likely lead to an outcome as good or better as not asking, so ask.

  • why can't it happen any more? they could pay for the vacation and issue a T4 6 months after the person worked there. Apr 28 '20 at 16:15

Should I ask for reimbursement of unclaimable vacation prize after being terminated as severance pay?

Very sorry to hear about your termination. I am not a lawyer, but my assumption is that your all-inclusive vacation is a benefit included in your employment agreement (perhaps explicitly in that agreement's language), which has now been cancelled by your employer.

To approach this as a legal matter will likely cost you more in time and legal fees than you are able to recoup.

There is no harm in asking about the vacation, but considering you may no longer be entitled to it, I would be polite, and emphasize that you are asking for a favor.

They may say no, but there's always the possibility that they might work something out for you.

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