The Federal Government recently announced an extension to the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB). The program, set to expire at the end of June, will now be available to support Canadians unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic till the end of August 2020.
Going forward, CERB recipients will be strongly encouraged to search for available work and to return to their prior employment if it is possible and safe to do so. Further changes to the program are expected in the coming weeks.
What does this mean for employers in Alberta?
With the extension of the CERB, many employers may feel relieved that their laid-off employees will continue to receive the benefit. This may factor into their plans to recall employees and may provide a sense of security as they slowly begin to resume operations.
While it is good to know that employees are receiving some income replacement, employers will need to be mindful of a 180-day clock that started on the first day of the temporary layoff, if that temporary layoff is related to COVID-19. More information on the Government of Alberta's changes to temporary layoff provisions in response to COVID-19 can be found here.
Employers who have not accessed the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) should strongly consider it. CEWS offers a 75% wage subsidy up to a maximum of $847/week per employee. This may allow you to recall some or all of your employees in a cost-effective manner. A timely recall will avoid the potential severance or litigation costs of terminating employees.
Originally published June 2020.
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