At the end of June, 2020, BC extended the maximum period for COVID-19-related temporary layoffs to 24 weeks in any 28 consecutive week period, ending before August 30, 2020 (see our summary here).

Some employers may not be in a position to recall employees during this period. If a temporary layoff is going to surpass 24 weeks, or August 30, 2020, employers need to apply to the Employment Standards Branch (“ESB”) to extend the layoff further. Otherwise, the layoff will be deemed permanent and employment will terminate.

Employers have previously been able to apply for an extension to the temporary layoff period by submitting a letter to the ESB Director that outlined the new period requested and reason for the request. The letter had to be signed by a majority of affected employees.

However, on July 20, 2020, BC announced that it was launching an accessible new online tool to streamline applications to extend layoffs. The new process has no cost to the employer and the application is suggested to take 15 minutes to complete. To submit an online application, the ESB:

  • requires documented support from over 50% of affected employees (ESB employee form);
  • recommends that all affected employees be notified of the application (ESB sample email); and
  • recommends that a list of affected employees be included with the application (ESB list template).

Once submitted, the ESB will consider the application and notify the employer if the application has been granted. The processing wait time is currently one week, meaning applications must be received by the ESB before August 25, 2020 to extend temporary layoffs past August 30, 2020.

The ESB considers applications on a case-by-case basis, and the Director retains the authority to set a new layoff expiry date or other conditions. The ESB has communicated that applications to extend layoffs past December 31, 2020 would only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

For more information or to apply for a COVID-19-related layoff extension, please see the ESB layoff webpage here.

The COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving with new measures being adopted or modified at both the federal and provincial level. For further information, please consult our Coronavirus Resource Centre or contact any member of our DLA Piper Canadian Employment and Labour Law Service Group, who will ensure that you are acting upon the most up-to-date information.


This article provides only general information about legal issues and developments, and is not intended to provide specific legal advice.  Please see our disclaimer for more details.