The Ontario Government has announced an extension of existing measures designed to delay temporary layoffs from triggering termination and severance liabilities.
Normally under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”), employees who are placed on a temporary layoff are deemed terminated if the temporary layoff extends beyond 13 weeks, unless certain conditions are met. However, on May 29, 2020, as part of its response to COVID-19, Ontario published Ontario Regulation 228/29 which temporarily amended the treatment of layoffs under the ESA, and retroactively deemed affected employees (whose hours of work had been temporarily reduced or eliminated as a result of COVID-19 on or after March 1, 2020) to be on “infectious disease emergency leave”. For more details refer to our previous In A Flash titled New Ontario Regulation Modifies Treatment of Layoffs Related to COVID-19.
Prior to this latest amendment, employees who were deemed to have been on an infectious disease emergency leave would have reverted back to a temporary layoff as of September 4, 2020, being six (6) weeks after the end of the declared state of emergency.
On September 3, 2020, the Ontario Government announced that the deemed infectious disease emergency leave would be extended until January 2, 2021, (through amendments to the defined “COVID-19 Period”), thereby pushing back the date on which employees would have otherwise reverted back to being on a temporary layoff. The result of this latest change, as announced, is to extend job protection further, while simultaneously deferring the date on which affected employees’ termination and severance pay entitlements would trigger.
At time of drafting, the amending regulation was not yet available for review. Further details will be provided as they become available.
If you have any questions about this matter, other COVID-19 related issues, or would like any other workplace law assistance, please contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.