The Manitoba government is adding a temporary exception to employment standards regulations to give employers more time to recall employees laid off as a result of COVID-19.
“The sudden economic impacts of COVID-19 are significant and we are addressing concerns we’ve heard from both employers and the labour force in Manitoba as businesses are forced to close their doors and lay off employees,” said Finance Minister Scott Fielding. “This measure will provide flexibility to employers to recall employees once work picks up again after this difficult time period and avoid severing their employment.”
Under current employment standards legislation, employees who have been laid off for eight or more weeks in a 16-week period are deemed to have been terminated and are entitled to wages in lieu of notice.
After consulting and receiving the support of the Labour Management Review Committee, which includes representatives of both employers and labour organizations, the province is making temporary amendments that would ensure any period of layoff occurring after March 1, 2020, will not be counted toward the period after which a temporary layoff would become a permanent termination.
“We recognize these unique circumstances may require a longer layoff period than regulation allows, so these amendments would stop the clock until the state of emergency is lifted and keep employers in a position to quickly recall laid-off employees and ramp up business again,” said Fielding. “We are committed to supporting Manitobans through the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re taking a balanced approach to help both employers and employees to address economic uncertainty and financial hardship.”
This measure is temporary and specific to situations where employees will eventually be rehired once the COVID-19 crisis has subsided and economic activity picks up again, said the minister.
The minister noted the province will also take steps to support workers and will suspend the exception when the province begins to recover economically. Workers who are temporarily laid off may also have options to access streamlined federal employment benefits at this time.