Temporary layoff extensions protect thousands of jobs, says Labour Minister Bains

THE Province has protected jobs and workers impacted by COVID-19 with an online variance application that simplified the process to extend temporary layoffs, resulting in the approval of more than 500 variances that protect more than 9,100 jobs across a variety of economic sectors.

“Our goal has been to protect jobs and give businesses that are struggling to reopen additional time, so they won’t be forced to terminate their employees,” said Labour Minister Harry Bains on Wednesday. “By using the variance process to extend temporary layoffs, hundreds of employers will now be able to recall their trained, valued and knowledgeable staff, and thousands of workers can now continue to access their work-related benefits while the business restarts.”

In response to the economic impact of COVID-19, and to ease financial hardship on businesses and keep workers connected with their jobs, government first extended the temporary layoff period from 13 to 16 weeks in May 2020. In late June, government extended this period to 24 weeks, expiring on Aug. 30, to give employers more time to recover before recalling staff. Both extensions were designed to coincide with the availability of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

In addition, the Ministry of Labour created a simplified online application process that allowed employers and workers to jointly apply to extend temporary layoffs beyond August 30 quickly and easily.

Between July 20 and August 30, the Employment Standards Branch approved 502 variance applications covering 9,154 workers with an average approval time of three days or less. Jobs have been protected in 11 economic sectors, including tourism and hospitality, transportation, forestry, communication, entertainment and recreation.

This process will continue to be in place as British Columbia moves forward during this pandemic, so employers who need to access it in the future still can.

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For information on employment standards around temporary layoffs, visit: