Changes also announced for employer obligations with group terminations
The Northwest Territories has amended its Employment Standards Act and Regulations to provide an emergency leave for employees.
The new leave provides job protection allowing workers to access unpaid leave when they are unable to perform their duties because of an emergency, such as the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency.
“Through these amendments, the government of the Northwest Territories is reinforcing its commitment to providing protection to NWT workers and flexibility to employers during the COVID-19 pandemic and future emergencies,” says R. J. Simpson, minister of education, culture and employment. “This will make it easier for Northern residents to take time off work in the case of an emergency to care for themselves and their families, and ensure employers aren’t penalized for circumstances outside of their control.”
The changes in NWT came into effect on July 1. However, the new rule is retroactive to March 18, 2020, when the territory-wide public health emergency was declared under the NWT Public Health Act.
Employees who were terminated from their employment because they were unable to work as a result of COVID-19 may have grounds to file a complaint with the Employment Standards Office, according to the government.
Meanwhile, the Employment Standards Act and Regulations now exempt employers from the legislated requirement to provide notice of group termination to the Employment Standards Officer and any applicable union if they can demonstrate the circumstances were beyond their control.
Employers will still be required to provide notice of group termination to the Employment Standards Officer and any applicable union as soon as possible, and employees will retain their entitlement to individual notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice (termination pay).