B.C. extends temporary layoff for COVID-19 related reasons

Layoff period extended

The B.C. government has extended the temporary layoff period to 16 weeks for COVID-19 related reasons as a means of easing financial hardship on businesses and to keep employees connected with their jobs.

Previously under the Employment Standards Act, a temporary layoff longer than 13 weeks in any 20-week period, or about three months in a five-month period, was considered a permanent layoff. With a permanent layoff, employers are required to provide employees with written working notice of termination and/or pay severance to qualifying employees, based on their length of service. Now, temporary layoffs relating to the COVID-19 pandemic can be extended to 16 weeks, if the employee agrees.

This change to the Employment Standards Act aligns B.C.'s temporary layoff provisions with the federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit period. The federal period provides 16 weeks of financial support, allowing employees to take full advantage of those benefits.

"It also allows employees to keep their job, even if they are not working, for 16 weeks of a temporary layoff. Employers will be able to quickly resume operations should the public health emergency end within that time."

The COVID-19 emergency temporary layoff provisions are not intended to be permanent and will be repealed when no longer needed.

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