On May 4, 2020, the government of British Columbia announced an amendment to the temporary layoff period which extends the layoff period in the Employment Standards Act to 16 weeks.

Previously, a temporary layoff was limited to a maximum of 13 weeks in any 20-week period. Any layoff longer than 13 weeks was considered a permanent layoff, which resulted in an employer being required to provide written notice or pay in lieu of notice upon termination based upon an employee's length of service. The intention behind this extension to 16 weeks is to align with the Federal Government's Canada Emergency Response Benefit ("CERB"), which provides 16 weeks of financial support.

This amendment will effectively allow employees to be on 16 weeks of temporary layoff, while receiving financial support through the CERB. This amendment will provide some relief to employers who would have otherwise been forced to terminate employment and payout severance to qualifying employees.

The government of British Columbia has noted that this amendment is not intended to be permanent and will only be available for so long as it is needed.

Disclaimer: This article provides only an overview of the special measures taken by the provincial government in response to COVID-19. It does not constitute or take the place of legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone and encouraged to seek legal advice tailored to their specific situation.

Originally published 5th May 2020.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.