BC extends Temporary Layoff Period from 16 weeks to 24 weeks due to COVID-19

After mounting pressure from businesses in BC, the BC government announced on Thursday, June 25 that it has extended the allowable temporary layoff period from 16 weeks to 24 weeks until August 30, 2020 for layoffs caused by COVID-19. This means that, for all employees already on a temporary layoff due to COVID-19, they will not be deemed to be terminated after 16 weeks of temporary layoff. Businesses now have several more weeks to hopefully reactivate as many of those employees as possible before the August 30, 2020 deadline and/or make other arrangements with their employees. 

The government suggested that businesses and their employees now have time to reach agreements if any further extensions are required into September. Such agreements can be reached if the parties make a joint application for a variance pursuant to section 72 of the BC Employment Standards Act (ESA).   

As matters stand right now, termination notice or payment would be owing at the end of August to those employees who are not reactivated by the end of August.  There are exceptions to this however. For instance, this would not be true if a variance is obtained to further extend the temporary layoff period into September or October. This would also not be true if the “impossibility” or “frustration” exception in section 65(1)(d) of the ESA applies to the terminations.  

Our previous blog posts address several of these matters including temporary layoffs, section 65(1)(d) of the ESA, and options for reducing workforce. The BC government news release is linked here.

This update was authored by Scott Marcinkow. Looking for more information regarding discrimination in the workplace? Contact Scott at smarcinkow@harpergrey.com or anyone else listed on the authors page.