FILE – B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains arrives at the start of the debate at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, June 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

FILE – B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains arrives at the start of the debate at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, June 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

B.C. extends temporary layoff period to 24 weeks due to COVID-19 pandemic

New limit will closely match CERB timeline

The province has extended how long companies can temporarily lay off workers due to the pandemic.

In a Thursday (June 25) news release, the labour ministry said the temporary layoff period was being extended to 24 weeks, up from 16 weeks declared in early May. That eight-week extension would see the temporary program expire at about the same time at the CERB, which was extended by the same time period earlier this month.

Labour Minister Harry Bains said the extension would allow for greater flexibility for workers and employers alike. The extension moves the temporary layoff period to Aug. 30.

“This will also give additional time to ensure that employers and workers are able to craft agreements if there is a need to further extend temporary layoffs, while still protecting workers’ rights to compensation for length of service,” he said.

The labour ministry said the goal of the extension was to maintain links between employers and employees, which can also allow workers to keep their benefit plans amid a temporary layoff.

Bains said the province heard “loud and clear” from employers that the extension was needed. B.C. entered Phase 3 of its COVID-19 recovery plan this week, but many businesses are still dealing with financial issues due to the pandemic.

READ MORE: Labour minister stands ground as B.C. business leaders demand temporary layoff extension

In a statement, UNITE HERE Local 40 president Zailda Chan, whose union represents represents hotel and hospitality workers in B.C., said she was “incredibly disappointed” with the decision.

“This decision falls far short of what laid-off workers need to stay connected to their jobs,” Chan said in a release, noting the extension would further delay possible severance payments for out-of-work staff.


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