On November 24, 2020, the Government of Alberta announced additional restrictions in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the province. Effective November 27, 2020, many businesses will be subject to closures, limited capacity, or appointment-only services. Employers in many industries will undoubtedly be affected by these restrictions. 

With certain changes to Alberta's Employment Standards Code effective November 1, 2020, here is what employers need to know when considering temporary layoffs in response to the additional restrictions:

  • Employers are no longer required to provide a specific amount of notice before the start of the temporary layoff. However, notice of temporary layoff must be provided to the employee before the layoff starts.
  • Notice of temporary layoff must:
    • Be in writing,
    • State it is a temporary layoff notice,
    • State the effective date of temporary layoff, and
    • Include sections 62-64 of Alberta's Employment Standards Code.
  • Employees who are laid off "for reasons related to COVID-19" can be placed on temporary layoff for a period of up to 180 consecutive days. In other words, employees on temporary layoff due to COVID-19 will not be deemed terminated until the 181st consecutive day of layoff.
    • If an employee was previously placed on temporary layoff as a result of COVID-19 but has since been recalled and returned to work, the same employee can be placed on a second temporary layoff for a period of up to 180 consecutive days. 
  • Employers may still extend a temporary layoff beyond the 180 consecutive days by entering into an agreement with the employee where the employer continues to provide benefits, wages or some other amount to the employee during the layoff period.
    • Employers should consult their benefits provider to determine the feasibility of this option in accordance with their respective benefit plans.
  • Employees are entitled to receive seven days' notice of recall to return to work from a temporary layoff. Employers should consider this recall notice period in their 180-day calculation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.