The BC government has introduced a new application process for employers seeking to extend temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 beyond August 30, 2020.
It was announced in June that the temporary layoff period in BC would be extended to 24 weeks or August 30, 2020 (whichever came first). Any further extensions will now only be granted through a "variance" to the Employment Standards Act. Previously, layoffs lasting longer than 13 weeks in any 20-week period were considered permanent layoffs, in which employers are required to provide employees with written working notice of termination and/or pay severance to qualifying employees, based on their length of service.
Through this new variance application process, employers and employees submit joint applications online. To qualify, an employer must conduct a survey to confirm that more than 50% of affected employees support the extension. A survey template is available for download and the online application includes a form and a tool to upload survey responses. Employers are also expected to have "reasonable plans" for returning employees to work by a specific date.
Applications may also be submitted by email but applicants can expect longer wait times through this route.
Variances may be granted for periods of time shorter than requested and extensions beyond December 31, 2020 will only be granted under extraordinary circumstnaces.
To avoid layoffs being deemed permanent, employers must submit applications by August 25, 2020 in order to receive a decision by the August 30, 2020 deadline.
For more information and guidance on the process, and to submit an application, visit the Government of BC's variance application page.
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