Employers must document support from staff before applying for extension
British Columbia has launched an online tool where employers can apply for an extension of a temporary layoff period amid the pandemic.
In June, B.C. revised its Employment Standards Act so that temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 can last up to 24 weeks or until Aug. 30, before the layoff becomes permanent.
Before applying for an extension, employers must survey their workforce and obtain more than 50 per cent support from workers through an online response tool.
Once worker support is documented, employers must complete the online form and submit the document in a new portal directly to the Employment Standards Branch. There are also new supportive templates and tools to assist employers and workers in taking these steps.
The government recommends that employers submit their variance applications early to avoid the potential for permanent staff layoffs and compensation for length of service to eligible workers upon the expiry of the COVID-19 emergency layoff period on Aug. 30.
Previously, Ontario changed the rules so that employees temporarily laid off due to the pandemic are now considered on leave. The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) later claimed that the changes to the rules were “an attack” on vulnerable workers.