Canada extends grace period for bosses to rehire workers

There is still uncertainty regarding when employers will call back their staff

Canada extends grace period for bosses to rehire workers

Canada has temporarily amended its labour laws to give employers, who were forced to furlough workers, ample time to call them back before the short-term layoff lapses into termination.

The temporary changes, introduced by Labour Minister Filomena Tassi, extends the grace period for recalling laid-off employees by up to six months. This lengthens the original three-month allowance given to companies that could not initially provide a specific date for rehiring staff.

“We know that many employers who have had to temporarily lay off employees intend to bring them back to work. However, there is still a great deal of uncertainty regarding exactly when that will be possible,” Tassi said.

Read more: Ontario expands emergency benefit to prevent 'costly' layoffs

The decision to amend Canada’s labour standards takes into account the unprecedented challenges that businesses are now facing in the aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdown.

The amendments will “help protect the jobs of federally regulated private-sector employees and support employers facing economic hardship as a result of the pandemic,” Employment and Social Development Canada said.

Before the changes, “some employees who were laid off in March or April 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic would have seen their employment deemed terminated as early as June or July 2020 for layoffs that are three months or less,” the agency said.

“Other employees would have seen their employment deemed terminated within the next few months for layoffs that are longer than three months, but not longer than six months, where the employer provides an expected recall date.”

Read more: Ontario makes temporary change to layoff regulations

From 22 June, however, employees who were furloughed before 31 March will have six months or up to 30 December (whichever occurs first) to be called back to work.

Meanwhile, those laid off between 31 March and 30 September will have a grace period ending 30 December, unless the employer issued a written notice specifying the recall date at the time of the layoff.

The new regulations, however, do not include workers protected under collective agreements on furloughs and those who were terminated before the amendments took effect.

The changes come on the heels of other employment law changes in response to COVID-19.

Ontario earlier amended its Employment Standards Act to protect workers “whose hours have been cut or whose roles have been eliminated temporarily during the pandemic,” HRD Canada reported.

Workers will instead be placed on emergency leave and will retain their status as employees even after their “furlough period exceeds the permitted length”.

  

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