What Happens With Short Term Layoffs In Alberta

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Short Term Layoffs In Alberta

In any economic environment, situations arise causing employers to temporarily decrease the number of employees on payroll. Legally, we refer to these temporary reductions in an employer’s workforce as temporary layoffs. People also use the term short term layoffs. Alberta law sets out the rights and obligations of both employees and employers when this happens. If you have questions, the employment lawyers at Kahane Law Office assist employers and employees with respect to layoff law in Alberta. Offices in Calgary and Edmonton make it easy to get the help when you need it.

Please Note: the following is specific to employment situations with no collective bargaining agreements. Unionized positions often have specific rules with respect to temporary layoffs.

What Is A Layoff?

Under the Employment Standards Code an employer has the option to stop paying an employee to come into work while maintaining the employment relationship with that employee, without terminating them. As below, the temporary layoff is a short-term provision aimed to help an employer stay in business in situations where there is a temporary over staffing situation.

Why The Law Allows Short Term Layoffs

Many situations exist for employers where they require a short term reduction in their workforce. A variety of situations lead to this need for short term layoffs. For example, reasons for the need to lay off employees include the following,

  • Annual or seasonal maintenance of employment equipment;
  • Seasonal nature of work (i.e. Inability to work in the coldest winter months);
  • Pandemics;
  • A fire or other situation where the work environment is unworkable;
  • Unexpected temporary loss or reduction in business;
  • Corporate restructuring; and lastly
  • Mergers, acquisitions, buyouts or relocations of the business.

How To Give A Temporary Layoff Notice

Proper notice of a temporary layoff is extremely important. Failing to give notice in the exact manner required under the law allows the employee to argue a termination took place. In this case, employers’ risk wrongful dismissal awards to the employee.

Proper short term layoffs require notices consists of several aspects. For example, an employer needs to give notice:

  • In a form that includes Sections 63 and 64 of the Alberta Employment Standards Code;
  • In writing;
  • States that the notice is a temporary layoff notice;
  • What the effective date of it is; and lastly
  • Include all other relevant information as required by the regulations.

What Happens If You Are Laid Off?

If you receive layoff notice, it is important to review that notice immediately. Next, if the notice fails to meet the standards as set out above, email our team to learn your rights. Lastly, if you received proper notice, you do not go to work. However, you have the ability to apply for Employment Insurance benefits. As set out below, once you receive a recall notice, the requirement is to return to work.

Is Severance Pay Paid If Due to A Temporary Layoff?

The quick answer is no, short term layoffs lack a requirement to pay severance. As long as the temporary layoff is shorter than the time allowed under law, no severance or termination pay is owed to an employee. As above, this also assumes the proper giving of notice.

How Long A Temporary Layoff Can Last In Alberta

The rules in Alberta shifted in light of Covid-19. Therefore, to comply with legislation, a maximum layoff is:

  • A cumulative of 60 days layoff out of any total 120 day period if before March 17, 2020;
  • 120 consecutive days layoff if between March 17, 2020 and June 17, 2020;
  • A cumulative of 90 days layoff out of any total 120 day period if after June 17, 2020.

NOTE: Special provisions exist for layoffs specifically related to Covid-19. These allow for 180 (consecutive) days.

Extending Short Term Layoffs

An employer may extend a lay off. To do so, by agreement between the employer and the employee, the employer can pay the employee wages or an amount instead of wages. In these situations, the employee does not attend work, but the employer / employee relationship is maintained.

Recalling Temporarily Layoff Employees

The process for recalling employees on short term layoffs is equally important to the process of commencing their lay off. A recall must be both in writing and state that the person must return to work with seven days of serving the notice on the employee. Service of these notices include several specific rules. For example, the law permits service of the notice by:

  • Sending the notice by email or fax;
  • Mailing the notice by regular or registered mail;
  • Handing the notice personally either at the persons address or at work; and lastly
  • Leaving the notice with a person appearing at least 18 years old at the employee’s address.

Employees Who Fail To Return To Work After Receiving A Recall Notice

If an employee fails to return to work inside of the 7 days’ notice outlined in the recall, they face termination. In these situations, termination is for cause meaning that no requirement to pay termination notice or severance pay exists.

Getting Help from Alberta Short Term Layoff Lawyers

Employers looking to temporarily reduce their workforce, or employees who face a temporary loss of work, often need legal help. Our Calgary and Edmonton office provide help when needed. To make things easier, we offer in person, telephone and video consultations in Alberta. For the fastest service, please email our office with a brief outline of your situation. This allows us to provide you with feedback, information and / or the ability to set up a meeting with the appropriate lawyer. Please email us at [email protected]. Alternatively, please feel free to call us at 1-877-225-8817 from anywhere in Alberta.