Temporary Layoff Provisions for BC Workers, Employers Extended to 24 Weeks

Victoria – Following conversations with business and worker representatives, the Province of British Columbia has extended the temporary layoffs provisions to a maximum of 24 weeks expiring on Aug. 30, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The extension will give employers and workers additional flexibility to support economic recovery in the province with the expectation that businesses honour their obligations to workers and reach agreement with their employees in the event a further extension is required. 

Temporary layoff provisions

The Province‚Äôs extension of the temporary layoff provision until Aug. 30, 2020, follows the previous change to expand the layoff period from 13 to 16 weeks, announced by government on May 4, 2020.

This new timeline aligns with the extended Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which extends to a maximum of 24 weeks.

For an individual business where circumstances necessitate a further extension of the temporary layoff provisions, an employer can apply for a variance under Section 72 of the Employment Standards Act.  

Section 72, a provision that is unique in Canada, allows for an employer and the majority of their affected workers to apply for a variance to certain sections of the act.

72. An employer and any of the employer’s employees may, in accordance with the regulations, join in a written application to the director for a variance of any of the following:

(a) a time period specified in the definition of “temporary layoff”;

To apply for a variance a letter must be delivered to the director of employment standards with the following information:

(a) the provision of the act the director is requested to vary;

(b) the variance requested;

(c) the duration of the variance;

(d) the reason for requesting the variance;

(e) the employer’s name, address and telephone number;

(f) the name and home phone number of each employee who signs the letter.

To ensure the process is as straightforward as possible, a form is available on the Employment Standards website to assist in the application process.

For more information on applying for a variance and to download the application form, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/employment-standards-advice/employment-standards/hours/variances

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