COVID-19: Government Extends Temporary Layoff – Infectious Disease Leave

On December 17, the Province announced that it will make a regulatory amendment to extend its emergency conversion of temporary layoffs into unpaid Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) infectious disease leaves. Our firm previously explained this emergency measure when it was announced in late May 2020.

This extension will prevent temporary layoffs of non-union employees from becoming terminations (with the associated costs) until at least July 3, 2021. It will also likely continue to provide protection against constructive dismissal claims brought against employers where the employer has not contracted with their employee for a right to layoff temporarily. This will reduce the financial burden on employers and risk to employees associated with shutdowns and temporary closures associated with the pandemic.

This measure is important, as an employer normally can only maintain a temporary layoff for so long before the ESA imposes monetary consequences. Under the ESA’s regular rules, an employee can only be temporarily laid off for 13 weeks in a 20 week period (or less than 35 weeks in a 52 week period in certain circumstances) before they are deemed to have their employment terminated. Such terminations attract monetary entitlements under the ESA and (in many cases) common law. This can be especially costly to employers who must layoff many employees at once.

Conversion to unpaid infectious disease leaves, however, will permit an employer to keep a laid-off employee off of work until this emergency measure expires without the risk of accidental termination. Once it expires, the ESA’s temporary layoff clock restarts.

As always, PooranLaw will continue to monitor developments related to emergency measures and provide updates on our website. In the meantime, if you require legal assistance, we encourage you to reach out to your regular PooranLaw lawyer, or any member of our team.

Note: This article provides general information only and does not constitute, and should not be relied upon as, legal advice or opinion. PooranLaw Professional Corporation holds the copyright to this article and the article and its contents may not be copied or reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, without the express permission of PooranLaw Professional Corporation.