Alberta Government Proposes Changes to Employment Standards Code

On June 18, 2020, the Alberta government introduced Bill 24, the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Statutes Amendment Act, 2020.

The Bill, when passed, would extend the temporary layoff period in Alberta from 120 to 180 consecutive days for employees who are laid off for reasons related to COVID-19. The extended layoff period would apply to employees who are on a layoff when this change comes into force, as well as those laid off on or after the coming into force of this change.

The Alberta government previously extended the temporary layoff period from the original 60 days in a 120-day period to 120 consecutive days. Employees laid off for 121 consecutive days are deemed to have been terminated and are entitled to termination pay pursuant to the Alberta Employment Standards Code. Without the extension to the layoff period proposed by Bill 24, employees who are laid off for 121 days would be entitled to termination pay, as well as the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, which was recently extended to August 2020 and discussed in a previous blog here.

The proposed Bill will also extend the unpaid leave previously introduced for employees who are required to take care of a child due to school or daycare closures, or to care for ill or self-isolating family members.

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating novel challenges for employers. Our labour and employment team is closely monitoring this evolving situation and can assist employers to manage COVID-19 in their workplace.