One concern arising as we move further into this situation is around the statutory time limits of temporary layoffs. Under British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act, a layoff that exceeds 13 weeks in a period of 20 consecutive weeks is no longer considered a temporary layoff but deemed a termination.
The B.C.-based Automotive Retailers Association (ARA0 believes an extension of this timeframe is necessary to ensure that businesses are able to reopen and recall their employees as the province moves to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and re-establish its economy.
To facilitate this, ARA President and CEO Adrian Scovell has written to Executive Lead Katie Robb, Joint Information Centre, COVID-19 at B.C. Public Service. The letter can be read here but reads in part:
Many of our members have unfortunately had to lay off staff members due to the COVID-19 crisis. If the 13-week timeframe remains as is, many of our members would be put under more financial strain should they be required to pay out the full amount of vacation pay for all impacted employees during this time of financial crisis, in addition to any other financial liability. In addition, employees need the security of knowing that there is a job to return to.
Numerous industries and a large number of employees in the B.C. will be affected by the existing requirements under the Employment Standards Act, but businesses in other provinces are also affected and under similar constraints.
In Ontario, a similar time limit of 13 weeks of temporary layoff over a 20-week period exists. Other provinces differ. For example, in Saskatchewan temporary layoff of employees for a total of more than 12 weeks in a 16-week period constitutes termination.
However, the Alberta government has increased the maximum time for temporary layoffs from 60 days to 120 days to ensure temporarily laid-off employees stay attached to a job longer.
Manitoba amended its rules too. The province’s employment standards state that employees who have been laid off for eight or more weeks in a 16-week period are considered terminated and entitled to wages in lieu of notice. Under the new rule, any period of layoff occurring after March 1 will not be counted toward the period after which a temporary layoff would become a permanent termination.
Under Quebec’s Act Respecting Labour Standards, a temporary layoff must not exceed a duration of 6 months. Layoffs for a period exceeding 6 months will be deemed a termination, in which case the laid off employee may be entitled to termination pay.