On September 3, 2020 the Ontario Government announced that they were extending the stay on the temporary layoff rules under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) to prevent temporary layoffs from automatically becoming permanent job losses.
Normally, under 56 (2) of the ESA once an employee has been on a temporary layoff for more than 13 weeks (or 20 weeks if the employee was in receipt of certain benefits) the temporary layoff is converted to a dismissal. This dismissal triggers the employer’s obligation to provide notice/severance. The concern the government is trying to address is that many businesses are not yet in a position to be able to recall all of their employees and those same businesses cannot afford to pay out notice and severance liabilities to their employees. This regulatory amendment delays these terminations and severance liabilities and will provide businesses more time to recover financially.
According to the announcement, employers will now have until January 2, 2021 to recall those employees they had placed on temporary layoff.
The government’s decision to have a fixed date by which employers must recall their employees is helpful although given that today (September 4) was the day that Employers were supposed to have made the decision to recall or terminate, I suspect that the news comes a little late for some.
One other rather important issue is that despite the announcement that the temporary lay off rules are being extended, the actual Regulation 228/20 – has not yet been amended (or at least not published).