Serving All of British Columbia Call 1-888-404-5167

When is a Disability a Frustration of Contract in British Columbia?

Without a doubt, a long-term disability is frustrating for employers and employees alike. A person who unexpectedly cannot work finds it difficult to make ends meet. An employer who has relied on that person for years– find themselves facing rising disability insurance premiums– while an important job goes undone.

In British Columbia, the law prevents the wrongful termination of an employment contract. However, the law does allow for an exception when a person’s disability permanently prevents them from returning to work. This is known as the defence of frustration.

If your employment contract was terminated due to your long-term illness or injury, it is important to understand your legal rights. While some circumstances allow for the use of the frustration defence, it does not provide employers with carte-blanche to terminate workers as they see fit. To discuss your rights in this situation, contact the Preszler personal injury law firm.

The rules regarding the frustration of contract are not firm

Call 1-877-572-1324 to speak with our British Columbia legal intake team for free Book Free Consultation

Courts will consider each case individually because there is never an easy answer on whether the defence might apply. A consultation with a personal injury lawyer could provide the best evaluation on whether it is warranted in your case.

It is a common misconception that frustration of contract is tied to the amount of time a person is unable to fulfill their position at work. Instead, the determination has more to do with the chances of ever returning. That does not mean an injury or illness must be permanent to warrant dismissal. Courts have found that an injury that lasts a sufficient duration– could go beyond the idea of a “temporary injury or illness.” If that occurs, the defence of frustration of contract could protect the employer in a wrongful termination suit.

The courts do not have hard and fast rules when an injury or illness becomes more than temporary. Each case is different, requiring the court to weigh several factors. They include:

  • How vital replacing the employee is to the health of the company
  • Terms of sick pay in the employment contract
  • The prognosis for a full or partial recovery
  • Employee’s time of service, and
  • The length of the employment contract.

If the judge determines that the employer dismissed the employee at a time when their disability would permanently or substantially impact their ability to do their job, the defence of frustration is available.

The defence would not be acceptable, however, if the court found that minor adjustments to the job would allow the worker to return in a reasonable amount of time.

Right of termination vs. expiration of benefits

One reason for the lack of clarity regarding time limits in a frustration defence could be the confusion with disability benefits. While there is not a hard and fast rule regarding when termination is allowed– there is a limit on long-term disability benefits in most cases.

It is important to understand that while these concepts are similar, one does not have a bearing on the other. There is a two-year limit in many instances on the availability of disability benefits. However, whether benefits are terminated doesn’t impact the employment agreement between the parties. A person can remain an employee under the terms of the contract– even if they have exhausted disability.

Work with an experienced injury lawyer

If you have been terminated from your job due to your illness or injury, your life might feel like it is out of control. That said, you could still have legal options for ensuring your financial needs are met. The court could disagree with your employer’s belief that it was necessary to fire you. To discuss your options with a long term disability law firm, contact us today.

Connect With Our Legal Team

Schedule a call with our personal injury legal intake team. Our team is available 24/7 so call us now to book your call. Our scheduled intake allows you to tell us details about your accident and gives our legal team an opportunity to review your case and advise you on possible solutions and outcomes. The best part is, if you decide to hire us after this call - you don't pay anything unless we win. We can help clients regardless of where they reside in British Columbia so let us help you get started on your road to recovery.


1321 Blanshard Street
Suite 301,
Victoria, BC
V8W 0B6
Fax: 778-373-8213
Toll Free: 1-877-572-1324
4720 Kingsway
Suite 2600,
Burnaby, BC
V6E 3C9
Fax: 778-373-8213
Toll Free: 1-877-572-1324
5811 Cooney Road
Suite 305 South Tower,
Richmond, BC
V6X 3M1
Fax: 778-373-8213
Toll Free: 1-877-572-1324
7164 120th Street
Suite 202,
Surrey, BC
V3W 3M8
Fax: 778-373-8213
Toll Free: 1-877-572-1324
1631 Dickson Avenue
Suite 1100,
Kelowna, BC
V1Y 0B5
Fax: 778-373-8213
Toll Free: 1-877-572-1324
1075 West Georgia Street
Unit 825,
Vancouver, BC
V6E 3C9
Fax: 778-373-8213
Toll Free: 1-877-572-1324
*These are consultation offices that require a booked meeting in advance. Walk-ins are not allowed.

DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the header image and other images throughout this website may include both lawyer and non-lawyer/paralegal employees of Preszler Injury Lawyers and unrelated third parties. Please note that the purpose of this disclaimer is to ensure that the usage of our spokesperson, John Fraser, or any other non-lawyer/paralegals in our legal marketing is not to be construed in any way as misleading to the public. Any questions regarding the usage of non-lawyers in our legal marketing or otherwise can be directed to management. Please also note that past results are not indicative of future results and that each case is unique and that case results listed on site are from experiences across Canada and are not specific to any province. Please be advised that some of the content on this website may be out of date. None of the content is intended to act as legal advice as each situation is independent and unique and requires individual legal advice from a licensed lawyer or paralegal. For legal advice on your individual situation – we can provide legal guidance after you have contacted our firm and we have established a lawyer-client relationship contractually. Please note that some of the content on this website may be out of date and no longer relevant after May 2021. For additional clarification on legal questions please contact our law firm and book a consultation with a member of our legal team.