Temporary Layoffs in Alberta

[COVID-19] Alberta Temporary Layoffs: What Employees Need to Know

Update: Alberta Temporary Layoff has been extended to 180 days. Click here to read more.
This information is currently being updated to reflect the developing legal landscape in Alberta. Please check back later for the updated article.

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If you would like to book a consultation to discuss your options in a temporary layoff, please feel free to contact us or email Jeneba Stewart directly at jstewart@west-legal.ca

26 Responses

  1. I received a recall notice with an end date. It looks like My position does have a term and and end date even though I was a full time employee. The letter says:-
    ”We are pleased to notify you that your position is temporarily available and this letter is our OFFICIAL NOTICE OF RECALL to you.
    You are expected to return to work for a term appointment from September 21, 2020, to March 31, 2021. Your salary and hours of work will remain the same. Please confirm receipt and acknowledgment by September 19th, 2020. As we navigate through these changing times, your job description may be updated to reflect the new and different tasks you may be undertaking as per the Terms of Employment Governing Management and Program, Supervisory and Professional
    Employees.
    This letter also serves as working notice of the end date of March 31, 2021 for the temporary work that was available. You will then automatically return to a Temporary Layoff Status. As this contract has a clear start and end date, you will not be eligible for pay in lieu of notice.”

    Changing a fundamental term of a contract – such as making my position a term position – can this be constructive dismissal???

  2. Jennifer lite

    Hello Just a quick question – I work in the restauraunt industry. I was laid off in MArch due to Covid. Since then my work has reopened but not called back ALL staff.

    1. IS my employer obligated to hire workers back in order of seniority? Meaning If I have worked for there 10 years can he can back an emplyee who has only been there 2 years, before calling me back?

    2 . Can I, at this point (months into the layoff) refuse to be lai off and ask my employer to fire me instead?

    Thanks in advance!

  3. Randall

    I was given a 120 day temporary layoff from a Calgary based energy company on March 31 / 2020 , reason given ” In response the realities of declining economic conditions in our industry to falling oil prices , and the impact on our business arising from the reduction of activity by our clients ” .this was agreed upon and signed off by both parties. Just recently I received an email from the company attempting to extend my layoff to 180 days, and again reason given for my continued layoff ” Due to ongoing declining economic conditions ” . As I understand it Employment Standards AB is permitting a 60 day extension to 180 days for layoffs specifically related to COVID19 conditions only . As I was informed on March 31 / 2020 by the Mngr. who handled my layoff ” my layoff had nothing to do with COVID19 and I would have to go on EI and have nothing to do with CERB ” I believe I am not applicable to a 180 day layoff and should be returning to work or terminated …….I’m curious of your thoughts on this ruling call ?

  4. Chris

    My brother was fired yesterday after being layed off since early March after college closed down and forced him to be layed off.

    He was never give notice of the lay off in writing,he had gone into work after schools closed down for his apprenticeship and was told he would stay layed off until the business picked up.

    Since then multiple people have been hired externally while he’s been waiting for a call back.

    About 1 and half month ago he was called and told that they would be looking to bring him back in 2 to 3 weeks and then never called him. So he followed a couple weeks after which was a few days ago and now they phoned him and told him he was not coming back and fired! Again nothing in writing.

    They are giving him 2 weeks severance even though he’s been with the company for 6+ years.

    They have been getting away with so many things for years and just wondering if he’s entilted to anything else cause this is some total bs.

    1. Hello Matt,

      Thank you for your comment. As a general rule, there isn’t anything preventing someone from working elsewhere while on a temporary lay-off. Keep in mind that this may impact your EI/CERB benefits. In addition, if your original employer recalls you back, you will need to return within 7 days, therefore, you would need to make sure you could leave the other employment quite quickly as to not jeopardize your original position.

  5. Cori

    I was layed off March 31 with no notice for 60 days. I was employed for longer than 10 years. And they extended my layoff for an additional 60 days. Now they are requesting that I call to discuss returning to work but in a totally different roll. What are the guidelines for reasonable alternative work? Do I have to accept the job they are offering? If I don’t would I be eligible for severance pay? And continue to be eligible for EI benefits?

  6. Alexia

    If an employee on a temporary layoff finds another job and will no longer be working with the previous company are they still entitled to their termination pay (severance)?

  7. Hello,

    I was given a temporary layoff notice by my employer through email 2 weeks ago. A week after that, they called me and said that they wanted to have me back. I was told by Alberta Labour Standards that notice must be in writing therefore, their recall is invalid. What are my options now?

  8. Elle

    Hey Jeneba,

    On my paperwork, dated and presented to me on April 2, 2020, it states that my temporary layoff is effective April 8, 2020. Now, I understand that the ESC was amended on April 6, 2020 (?), in which the temporary layoff period was extended to 120 days but I was just wondering, since I was given notice on the 2nd, does the amended ESC supersede my notice and now my employer is no longer required to recall me within the 60 days, if they wish to not terminate my employment?

    Also, I know it may not mean much, as it was not in writing and was just verbally communicated to me but both my manager and her superior expressed the 60 day stipulation to me.

    Thanks

  9. Nancy C

    I was laid off in March due to the covid 19, does my employer have to hire me back when they open their retail business ess and if so, at the same rate of pay and status of seniority that I was at?

    1. Hello Nancy,

      An employer is not obligated to recall an employee after a period of temporary layoff. If the employee is not recalled before the end of the temporary layoff period (which is currently 120 days in Alberta), their employment is deemed terminated and they may be entitled to severance pursuant to employment legislation, the common law and/or the terms of their employment contract. In general, an employee should be recalled under the original terms of their employment, however the law does require an employee to be reasonable given the circumstances, and some change may be ok. If you are terminated from your employment, or are hired back under different terms, it would be a good idea to seek legal advice about your options.

  10. Dave

    Was put on temporary lay-off April 2nd, and returned to work Saturday May 23. After 3 shifts I was placed on temporary layoff again today.

    Does the 120 days start from today? The old language was ‘’60 days out of 120” but now it is just ‘120’. Or does that just mean 120 days? In which case it would be x days after today minus the credit from April 2nd until May 23?

    I feel like they had no intention of returning me to work as normal.

    1. Hello Dave,

      You are correct that the ESC previously stated that a temporary layoff could not exceed “60 days in a 120 day period.” However, the Employment Standards Code was temporarily amended by Ministerial Order on April 9, 2020. Section 63(1) of the Code which deals with temporary layoffs was temporarily amended to read “the employment of an employee laid off for more than 120 consecutive days is deemed to be terminated.” We would be happy to set up a consultation to advise you further on your particular issue.

  11. Jason

    I have been temporarily laid off but my company is still paying my benefits. I have a temporary lay off notice I am supposed to sign and send back. What happens if I don’t sign it, does that change the length of time they either have to recall me or terminate me with severance?

  12. Kaitlyn

    Hello everyone!

    I was laid off due to “work shortage” at in March. I was an employee for less than a year. They laid me off with no severance pay – if they do not recall me and hire someone else to do my job am I entitled to severance pay after the 120 days is up?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Kaitlyn,

      If you are terminated following the end of your temporary layoff period, and are a provincially regulated employee in Alberta, your minimum entitlement to notice or pay in lieu of notice is set out in the Alberta Employment Standards Code. The minimum termination notice for a provincially regulated employee who has been employed for a period of more than 90 days, but less than 2 years, is 1 week. You may be entitled to further severance pay pursuant to the common law, however this would be dependent on a number of factors including the wording in your employment agreement. In the event that you are terminated, I would recommend booking a severance review with our Firm so that we can advise you on whether you are receiving your full entitlements under the law.

    1. Hello Tony,

      I suppose in theory they could, however it would not erase their obligation to recall you at the end of your temporary lay-off period, or to provide you with reasonable notice of termination should they be unable to hire you back. In general, an employee on an indefinite contract, should be hired back pursuant to the original terms of their employment when they are recalled from a temporary layoff (in short, given their old job back).

  13. Bill

    After your temporary layoff has been passed and the company has decided to lay you off permanently, can they have you come work your layoff notice? Or do they only have the option to pay you your termination pay?

    1. Hi Bill,

      Thank you for your question. If your employer does terminate your employment, they are required to provide at-least the minimum termination notice set out by the Alberta Employment Standards Code. Termination notice under the Code, can include pay in lieu of notice, working notice, or a combination of both. Therefore, although unlikely, the employer could provide you with working notice, meaning that yes, you would have to return to work out your notice period.

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