On Thursday, the B.C. Government said employers needing to extend temporary layoff benefits beyond the August 30th expiry, must apply online.

Those needing an extension are asked by the B.C. Government to apply for a variance before August 25th, through the Employment Standards Branch’s new online application.

“While more and more businesses are reopening, we know there are still some businesses that won’t be able to recall staff back to work by the end of August,” said Harry Bains, B.C. Minister of Labour. “This new variance process will help maintain the link between employers and workers so that when businesses are able to scale up their reopening, they have the skilled and experienced workers ready to resume their jobs – but only if the deadline is not missed.”

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Back in July, the Ministry of Labour launched a simplified application process. The new process went digital, allowing all documents to be emailed and reducing the strain on employers to apply for the variance.

“In order to receive a variance, an employer must survey employees eligible for an extension to their temporary layoff and the business must ensure it has more than 50% support before applying,” said the B.C. Government. “Employers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.”

The application deadline is August 25th for employees and employers that are jointly applying for an extension, ensuring that all applications are processed before the August 30th expiry of the temporary layoff period.

Temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 can last up to 24 weeks or until August 30th, before the temporary layoff becomes permanent under B.C.’s Employment Standards Act.

Baines said its critical employers apply and don’t take any risks as they would have to pay severance and require to follow through on permanent layoff standards.

“We’re making sure that every business knows what the deadline is and what the consequences are if they don’t apply and get approval by August 30th because the temporary layoff will become permanent layoff. Then the employees will be entitled to severance packages and that is a huge risk the employer will take if they don’t apply and get the approval before August 30th.”

Baines said they are reaching to business associations and organizations across British Columbia, which represent over 150,000 local businesses.

“It is good for employers to be able to recall their trained, valued, knowledgable, experienced staff, and it is good for workers to continue to have access to their jobs, work-related benefits while the businesses restart.”

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