Update June 23rd:
The Government of Canada has announced changes to extend time periods for temporary layoffs to allow employers more time to recall laid-off employees.
Prior to these changes, employers could temporarily lay-off employees for up to three months if no notice with a recall date was provided, or for a period of up to six months if they provided notice with an expected recall date.
The amendments, which came into effect on June 22, extend these time periods by up to six months:
- For employees laid off prior to March 31, 2020, the time period is extended by six months or to December 30, 2020, whichever occurs first.
- For employees laid off between March 31, 2020, and September 30, 2020, the time period is extended until December 30, 2020, unless a later recall date was provided in a written notice at the time of the layoff.
The Employment Standards Act of British Columbia only allows an employer to temporarily layoff an employee in the following situations:
- The employee’s contract expressly permits it.
- The employer is in a business in which temporary layoffs are a common industry-wide practice. For example, in logging, work cannot be performed during the “break-up” season.
- The employee agrees to the temporary layoff.
Where a temporary layoff is permitted, the maximum length of time that an employee can be laid off is 16 weeks in a consecutive 24-week period IF the leave is caused by COVID-19 related reasons. The 24-week period begins on the first day of the layoff. It expires on August 30, 2020. (See June 25th News Release from B.C. Government)
If an employee earns less than 50% of his or her regular wages in any week that falls within the 24-week period, that week will also count towards the 16-week period.