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On June 23, 2020, the Government of Canada announced amendments to the Canada Labour Standards Regulations which temporarily extend the time periods for which federally-regulated employers can lay off employees. Prior to the amendments, federally-regulated employers could temporarily lay their employees off for up to three months without providing a recall date at the time of layoff, or for up to six months if they provided the employee with a notice containing an expected recall date, without the lay-off being deemed a termination. 

The new amendments, which came into effect June 22, 2020, extend these time periods as follows:

  • For employees laid off prior to March 31, 2020, the time period is extended by six months or to December 30, 2020, whichever occurs first.
  • For employees laid off between March 31, 2020, and September 30, 2020, the time period is extended until December 30, 2020, unless a later recall date was provided in a written notice at the time of the layoff.

These new amendments do not apply to employees whose employment had already been terminated prior to June 22, 2020. The changes also do not apply to unionized employees who are covered by a collective agreement containing recall rights.

Lay-offs occurring after September 30, 2020 will be governed by the previous rules.

These extended timelines will help federally regulated employers avoid the risk of lay-offs related to the COVID-19 pandemic becoming deemed terminations, and the cost consequences that would result. They provide employers with some additional flexibility with regard to timelines for recalling laid-off employees as they plan the reopening of their businesses in the current difficult economic climate.

This blog is provided as an information service and summary of workplace legal issues. This information is not intended as legal advice.