On June 25, 2020, B.C. announced that it had extended the duration of temporary layoffs connected to the COVID-19 emergency under the Employment Standard Act to a maximum of 24 weeks, ending on or before August 30, 2020, in any period of 28 consecutive weeks.
On May 4, 2020, the B.C. government had previously announced an extension to 16 weeks in any period of 20 consecutive weeks for layoffs connected to COVID-19. For many employers and employees, this temporary layoff period was set to expire at the beginning of July. However, the impact of COVID-19 is still keenly felt in the province, and employers now have additional flexibility to retain employees on layoff for an additional period without triggering statutory notice.
Employers should mark the dates the new layoff period will expire for each employee currently on layoff, bearing in mind that a “week of layoff” means a week in which an employee earns less that 50% of the employee’s weekly wages, at the regular wage, averaged over the previous 8 weeks. The Order in Council can be found here.
Although B.C. has extended the duration of COVID-related layoffs, employers must be aware that the extension only applies to permitted layoffs — i.e. where the employer has an express or implied right to place an employee on temporary layoff or where the employee agrees to be placed on temporary layoff. The Employment Standards Act does not, in and of itself, provide employers with a right to place an employee on temporary layoff. Rather it governs the duration of such layoffs where the right otherwise exists.
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.