Minister of Labour Harry Bains. (Supplied by the Province of BC)
The province is urging employers who need to extend temporary layoffs to act now.
Businesses needing an extension should apply by Aug. 25.
They can do so through the using the Employment Standards Branch’s new online application.
The deadline is set five days before the Aug. 30 expiry date to ensure that all applications are processed in time.
Under B.C.’s Employment Standards Act, temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 can last up to 24 weeks, or until Aug. 30, before the layoff becomes permanent.
Labour minister Harry Bains said that while more and more businesses are reopening, there are still some that won’t be able to recall staff by the end of August.
He added that the pandemic has created unprecedented challenges including keeping temporarily laid-off workers connected to their workplaces.
“It is in everyone’s best interest to keep these relationships intact so we can build an economic recovery that works for everyone in B.C.,” Bains said.
Bains said it’s good for employers to be able to recall their “trained, valued, knowledgeable, experienced staff, and it is good for workers to continue to have access to their jobs (and) work-related benefits while the businesses restart.”
Bains said permanent layoffs hurt everyone.
“When the worker is permanently laid off, the business loses its ability to restart quickly, it must hire, train, and supervise new employees, and this takes time and resources,” Bains said. “We recognize the current circumstances have been hard for workers and employers, and we’re doing everything possible to support them both.”
Last month, the Ministry of Labour launched a simplified variance application process that replaces paper-based applications.
The province says it allows all documents to be sent by email and “reduces the burden on employers and employees by providing the templates and tools needed to apply.”
To receive a variance, an employer must survey employees eligible for an extension to their temporary layoff, and the business must ensure it has more than 50 per cent support before applying.
View a demonstration of the process to apply for a temporary layoff variance presented to the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce by the Ministry of Labour: https://youtu.be/SrRv8XykBAM
Visit the updated website for temporary layoff variance applications: www.gov.bc.ca/covidlayoffs
For information on employment standards around temporary layoffs, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/employment-standards-advice/employment-standards/hours/variances