Layoff provisions for workers, employers extended
Following conversations with business and worker representatives, the Province of British Columbia announced June 25 it is extending the temporary layoffs provisions to a maximum of 24 weeks expiring on Aug. 30, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The extension will give employers and workers additional flexibility to support economic recovery in the province with the expectation that businesses honour their obligations to workers and reach agreement with their employees in the event a further extension is required, a Ministry of Labour media release stated.
“This extension will provide even more certainty and flexibility,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “This will also give additional time to ensure that employers and workers are able to craft agreements if there is a need to further extend temporary layoffs, while still protecting workers’ rights to compensation for length of service.
“Our goal is to maintain connections between employers and workers who have a joint interest in supporting the economic recovery of businesses in B.C. and the jobs that go with them. Employers who are not able to return to full operations and need additional time can do so with agreement from their employees, but we expect those employees will be recalled when operations have resumed.”
Section 72 of the B.C. Employment Standards Act provides a tool unique in Canada, allowing employers and workers to extend temporary layoffs by making a joint application to the Employment Standards Branch.
“We heard loud and clear from employers that they need this extension,” Bains said. “We also know it is important to ensure that workers know that they have to be involved in the agreement with the employer to extend the temporary layoff and have a right to decline the layoff and accept the compensation for length of service which they are entitled to.”
Government will continue discussions with worker and employer representatives to ensure the Section 72 applications are processed in a timely and effective manner to support economic recovery and protect workers’ rights.
Employers are also encouraged to make use of the federal wage subsidy to assist them in bringing their workers back, the ministry said.
The province’s extension of the temporary layoff provision until Aug. 30, follows the previous change to expand the layoff period from 13 to 16 weeks, announced by government on May 4, 2020.
This new timeline aligns with the extended Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which extends to a maximum of 24 weeks.