B.C. Employees Must Apply to Extend Temporary Layoffs By August 25

Further to our Extension of the Temporary Layoff Provision in British Columbia – The COVID-19 Temporary Layoff Period article in June, the B.C. government extended the temporary layoff provision of the Employment Standards Act to a maximum of 24 weeks expiring on August 30, 2020.

B.C. employers wishing to extend their temporary layoffs beyond August 30, 2020 due to COVID-19 can apply to do so by August 25, 2020. The August 25 deadline helps ensure that all applications are processed by the August 30 expiry date. If an application is not processed by August 30, the layoff is deemed to be permanent and will constitute as a termination, requiring an employer to provide written notice or pay in lieu of notice based upon the employee’s length of service.

Employers can apply for the extension through a new online tool introduced by B.C.’s Ministry of Labour last month, replacing the paper-based applications process. The new online portal expedites the application process and helps employers to apply more easily for the extension. Applications can also be submitted by email but these applications may take longer to process.

More information is available here.

Before applying, employers must have the consent of more than 50% of those employees who will be affected by the temporary layoff. Consent must be documented in the application and the portal also provides a template to document employee support which employers can share with affected employees. Furthermore, employers should have a specific recall date in mind when applying for the extension. Employers unable to set a specific recall date for employees because of variables affecting B.C.’s Restart Plan and reopening of the economy should determine a date that most closely aligns with their reasonable business plans to partially or fully resume operations.

The Employment Standards Branch is encouraging employers and employees wishing to apply for the extension to do so as soon as possible.

The MLT Aikins Labour and Employment team is available to help employers better understand these changes and the particular impact they may have on your organization.