British Columbia extends temporary layoff period to 24 weeks

The British Columbia government has announced that it will extend the temporary layoff provisions under the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) to a maximum of 24 weeks until August 30, 2020, where the COVID-19 emergency is a cause of all or part of the layoff.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ESA only permitted temporary layoffs of up to 13 weeks in a period of 20 consecutive weeks, after which time the layoff was treated as a termination of employment. This latest extension follows a previous amendment on May 4, 2020 which extended the temporary layoff provisions for COVID-19 related layoffs from 13 weeks to 16 weeks in any 20 consecutive week period.

Where circumstances necessitate a further extension of the temporary layoff provisions beyond August 30, an employer may also apply for a variance under section 72 of the Employment Standards Act.

This most recent extension is an important development for British Columbia employers and provides some welcome flexibility and support for businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The recent government news release can be found here.

If you have any questions about this article, please contact Sari Wiens, Ilan BurkesNicole Toye or Jessica Fairbairn.

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